By staff

Proposed legislation ensuring that alcohol advertising should not be targeted at children has been backed by medical experts.

A ten minute rule bill setting out measures to stop alcohol advertising being aimed at children and ensure that promotional messages are factual will be put forward by Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston next Wednesday.

The bill is supported in an editorial published on today by Professor Gerard Hastings and Dr Nick Sheron.

The two experts argue that the government needs to address two “pressing” problems: the excessive drinking of young people and their wide exposure to alcohol advertising.

“The UK drinks industry spends £800 million a year promoting alcohol compared with a budget of just £2.6 million for the UK’s biggest alcohol education initiative in 2010,” they wrote.

“For every £1 spent advising young people about the downsides of drinking, several hundred pounds are spent encouraging them to drink more.”

In 2008, there were more than 600 alcohol-related deaths – almost two a day – among 15- 24-year-olds in England and Wales.

In addition, problems like anti-social behaviour, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are linked to heavy drinking.

The bill has been modelled on the French ‘loi evin’, which Prof Hasting and Dr Sheron argue has seen drinking rates fall across the channel. The UK version will be titled ‘loi Wollaston’ with a nod to its inspiration.

The two experts argued restricting advertising will have a significant effect in reducing binge drinking among the young.

“Removing this profoundly unhealthy influence is, unsurprisingly, recognised as a key public health priority,” they added.

“So, along with their café culture, the ‘loi evin’ is a French innovation that the UK needs.”