The Government take the issue of alcohol misuse seriously, particularly among young people, and set out a programme of measures in the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England in 2004. The strategy noted the work being undertaken by Ofcom to review the rules on alcohol advertising on television.
Ofcom conducted and assessed research about the impact of alcohol advertising and concluded there was insufficient evidence to support a ban. However, Ofcom’s code amendments, which came into effect on 1 January 2005, significantly strengthened the rules on broadcast alcohol advertising in many areas particularly to protect the under-18s.
In parallel with the changes to the TV Advertising Standards Code, the non-broadcast code was tightened to ensure that the content of all advertisements was socially responsible and that they did not contain a particular appeal to youth culture or links to sexual success and did not encourage antisocial behaviour. These new rules were introduced in October 2005 and have been monitored and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). I understand the ASA and the Committees of Advertising Practice will be conducting further research this year to assess the effectiveness of the new code rules and will assess whether any further changes are required.
The Department has made no separate assessment of the merits of an alcohol advertising ban.