UK Ad Campaign to Discourage Excessive Drinking

Britain’s alcohol industry is launching a 100-million-pound government-endorsed campaign to discourage excessive drinking among young adults. The Campaign for Smarter Drinking, supported by 45 companies, is one of the largest of its kind and aims to advertise throughout England.

The campaign will emphasize “practical tips” for safe drinking, using the slogan “Why let good times go bad?” The campaign is intended to run for five years and will offer practical trips about eating and drinking while out and thinking about how to get home safely. The ads will appear outside, in bars, and at cashier desks, and the slogans will appear on millions of alcohol bottles and cans.

Jonathan Neame, head of brewer Shepherd-Neame, said that the initiative was “part of the answer” to the problem of alcohol abuse. “In the end, we can only achieve change if people take responsibility for their own behavior, and this campaign will help them make informed choices,” he said.

Government ministries have said they will support the campaign for one year, with further support contingent on an independent analysis of its effectiveness.

Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said, “While the vast majority of people who drink enjoy alcohol in moderation, we’re facing a growing public health problem where people are regularly drinking too much or are dependent on alcohol.” He continued, “Clearly the industry has a responsibility to play their part in tackling this problem and I hope this campaign will make a real difference to people’s attitudes to drunkenness and their drinking behavior.”

However, Sir Liam Donaldson, the government’s chief medical advisor, wants to see a minimum price of alcohol to curb consumption. Ministers in Scotland are planning to implement a minimum price per unit of alcohol, but when the idea was presented for England, Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a lukewarm response.
Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, said he was skeptical about the campaign’s effectiveness. “There is very little evidence that health messages work to prevent binge or harmful drinking,” he said.

“Instead, all the international evidence shows that increasing the price and reducing the availability of alcohol, together with bans on advertising, are the main methods of reducing alcohol-related harm.”