Plans to restrict alcohol advertising put on hold

Date: 25th April 2023
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

alcohol prohibited

First Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed the delay to limiting alcohol marketing in Parliament last week due to concerns being raised within the industry. This is just after the closing of a Scottish Government consultation on restricting alcohol advertising, to which children’s rights organisations, including Together, responded highlighting children and young people’s concerns around the impact of alcohol on their lives.

The government consultation made a range of proposals such as prohibiting alcohol sports and events sponsorship, prohibiting alcohol marketing in outdoor settings and public spaces and restricting visibility of alcohol in retail settings.

According to Holyrood, the consultation faced a lot of opposition from the alcohol advertising industry over concerns that it would damage Scotland’s economy and that it fails to address excessive alcohol consumption.

Together’s response to the consultation drew from research by Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament and Alcohol Focus Scotland, which highlighted children’s concerns over the advertising of alcohol and points to guidance from the UN Committee on the Rights of the child that calls for children to be protected from marketing and promotion of harmful substances.

In Yousaf’s statement on the delay to limiting advertising, he said:

I believe that all of us want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, particularly to young people – but without undermining Scotland’s world class drinks industry or tourism sector. I am hopeful that by taking a fresh look at this issue, we can find a way forward which achieves both of these crucial aims.”

He said his plans are to “go back to the drawing board” and “work with the industry, and crucially with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals”. If Yousaf is concerned with the impact of alcohol advertising on young people as he says he is, he should include children and young people in these new consultations and consider their concerns over alcohol advertising.

Young people should be involved in these conversations along with healthcare stakeholders and the alcohol advertising industry to work towards proposals which could permit alcohol advertising that also considers and protects the child’s best interest.