The Impact of Alcohol Advertising on Alcohol Abuse

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Alcohol advertisement can be described as the promotion of beverages that are fermented by alcohol producers or distributors through various channels such as social media and posters. This form of advertisement is one of the most highly regulated forms of marketing around the world. The ban of such advertisement varies from country to country. Over the past few decades, various scientific research, higher learning institutions, and health agencies have established that there is a correlation between advertisement of alcoholic beverages and its consumption, particularly among the non-drinking adolescents. However, there has been an equally significant evidence which indicates that advertising such staffs does not necessarily result to increase in the number of individuals consuming alcohol but rather reflect the demand from the public. Most of the commentators believe that the campaigns that advocate for the ban of alcohol advertisement are actually increasing the producers' market share rather than reducing the consumption. The adversaries of alcohol advertisement argue that the producers have changed over the years and now are targeting a specific demographic or audience, which in return makes it more dangerous, particularly to the volatile groups. There is increasing evidence that tends to suggest that some brands are developing certain alcoholic beverages that are more appealing to a specific group of individuals. The advertisers have been criticised for their move of targeting young people and underage individuals. In this regard, there have been calls from various agencies for government to institute tight legislations against the advertisement of alcoholic products but very few governments and reports have acknowledged the need for such measures.


Over the years, people have been acquainted with alcoholic drinks with many writings indicating that the public should not worry about the contemporary young individuals who drink too much. However, time has changed and commercial producers have taken a different direction by instituting a mechanism that ensures that they have captured the attention of vulnerable group such as the youth by advertising their products and making it more appealing. Recently, there has been increasing concern from various agencies on the emerging alcohol drinking habit among the youth in the United Kingdom and other countries. This revelation has been backed up by various large-scale surveys that have included different youths across the country. The studies indicate that a significant number of young individuals start experimenting with alcohol at a very tender age and a substantial minority consumes alcohol regularly. The surveys further indicate that more adolescents start drinking later but become occasional drinkers by the time they reach their mid-teenage life. Moreover, there have been several cases where teenage drinkers often drink to the point of drunkenness. There are a number of factors that have been found to be the reason behind teenage drinking in the U.K. These factors that have been listed by various studies include advertisement of alcohol products and influence from the parents and peer group.     Although all the factors equally contribute to the rising number of teenage drinking in the U.K, the advertisement from the producers has been cited as the major contributing factor due to the fact that young individuals largely interact with social media. When different brands are allowed to freely advertise their products, they may create an environment in which drinking alcohol may be regarded as a norm, which in return may serve as a trigger to evoke interest in alcohol consumption. According to professor Gilmore, chairman of Alcohol Health Alliance in the U.K, advertisement of alcohol products promote drinking habits among the youth as a result of their exposure to the products ( 2008). Through their subtler ways and other weaknesses, alcohol producers have been able to promote their beverages, particularly to the delicate young population (Bruijn et al. 2016, p. 1781; 2018).

Research Question and Research Objectives

1) What are the impacts of advertising on alcohol abuse?

2) To analyze the effects alcohol advertising of people in the UK

3) To know if alcohol advertising is affecting the level of alcohol drinking activity

4) To explore the regulatory measures taken by the UK government in controlling alcohol advertising

Literature Review

Factors that Cause Alcohol Abuse in the U.K

There are a number of factors that have been found to be the reason behind teenage drinking in the U.K. These factors that have been listed by various studies include advertisement of alcohol products, the ease of access for people in the country to purchase alcoholic beverages, and influence from the parents and peer group (Lyon 2017, p.3).  Although all the listed factors equally contribute to the rising number of teenage drinking in the U.K, the advertisement from the brands has been cited as the major contributing factor due to the fact that today young generation largely interacts with social media such as Facebook.

The Role of Alcohol Advertisement

Although there has been heated argument on the possible effects of alcohol advertisement on minors, most of the advertising codes and regulations do not allow advertisements that specifically target children. However, most of the marketing procedures and methods are filled with a lot of ubiquity which ensures that the minors do not miss it. According to an Ofcom report of 2013, there was a significant fall in the number of children consuming alcohol from 2002 to 2006, the period that the government reduced the number of alcohol advertising on television. However, the onset of online streaming channels has drastically increased the possibility of children being exposed to alcohol advertising (Siegel et al. 2016, p.364). In addition, according to a study conducted by Patil et al. (2014), it showed that children from 10 to 15 years old in the U.K are an increased risked of getting exposed to alcohol advertisements per viewing hour more than individuals who are 25 years and above. The proportion of minors consuming alcohol in the U.K remains well above the European average and more evidence point to the increased rate of exposure to alcohol marketing efforts by the producers (Chen et al. 2006, p.560). Most alcohol advertisements associate drinking with fun and friendship, which in return encourages children to become drinkers at an early age (Smith and Foxcroft 2007, p.18). Moreover, according to a report from the science committee of the European alcohol and health forum that was released in 2009, it concluded that alcohol marketing upsurges the possibility of adolescents starting to consume alcohol and increases their level of alcohol intake if they are existing drinkers (Scientific Opinion of the Science Group of the European Alcohol and Health Forum 2009, p.4).

According to a research conducted by Tucker et al. in 2013, it suggested that increased exposure to alcohol advertisements and its related contents may initiate a mutual process of influencing young individuals during adolescent stage, which in return may escalate the consumption of alcohol over time. When members of the same age set see or hear alcohol-related advertisements, they become more attracted to alcohol and chances of seeking out media advertisements related to alcohol are increased (Tucker et al. 2013, p.462). In extreme levels, producers take an indirect approach by sponsoring sports teams and events that are significant to young people. In this regard, their appeal to children and adolescents is enhanced which lead to an increase in the rate of consumption of their alcoholic products. According to a systematic review conducted by Brown in 2016 on seven types of research that explored alcohol sports sponsorship, it discovered a strong connection between alcohol consumption and exposure to such marketing approaches (Brown 2016, p.8). Recent findings from the United Kingdom indicated that there is a close relationship between an increased risk of alcohol consumption and exposure to alcohol use in films and video arenas (Waylen et al. 2015, p.853).

Today, social media has presented a reasonable marketing channel for many alcohol brands across the U.K and the other states. For instance, according to a study conducted by Ofcom in 2016, it recorded that Facebook alone was visited by 38.9 million users in the U.K while the other two channels; Twitter and Instagram were visited by 20.9 and 16.5 million individuals respectively. With the number in mind, various studies have found a close relationship between individuals who follow alcohol social media profiles and the risk of consuming their products. In addition, according to a research conducted recently in the U.S and U.K, the study found that YouTube profiles created for fictional users between 14 and 19 years were able to subscribe to 100% of the alcohol products the channel pages explored (Barry et al. 2014, p.90).

The Role of Responsible Parties in Minimizing Alcohol Abuse

In a bid of reducing the harmful effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption, the U.K government should collaboratively join efforts to change the perception of the people about drinking. According to a study conducted by Benjamin et al. 2012, 83% of the people that consumes alcohol beyond the required guidelines do not think their behaviour is putting them at an increased health risk. In this regard, the government should institute a proper mechanism that will ensure that a good portion of the regular drinkers are aware of the associated risks and make sure that heavy drinkers get the needed support to change their “addiction”. The U.K government has been heavily criticized over the past few years for putting too much interest in alcohol policies and creating their guidelines based on weak evidence (Benjamin et al. 2012, p.297). The structures of most brands have undergone a drastic transformation over the years with the policies remaining the same. In this regard, the policies have played a minimal role in ensuring that certain groups such as children and adolescents are protected from being influenced to start drinking or continue drinking at their early age. There is little knowledge known by the public about the prominent role of the government in developing and implementing strong alcohol policies that will be able to stand the test of time and changes in the society (Baggot 2010, p.13; Bruijn et al. 2016, p.1780).

In a bid of tackling the situation from the producers, the U.K government has emphasized on the need to form a partnership-based approach centred on “Social Aspects Organisations”, an initiative created by alcohol sector to promote its positions on alcohol policy formulation (Baggot 201, p.17). Although various alcohol brands are granted positions in policy formulations and the development of alcohol strategy, there are mixed reactions about the central role of SAO with the adversaries of the move by the government to include the producers in policy formulation claiming that their ties to the industry make them biased and cannot be regarded as neutral participants (Harkins 2010, p.187). As one of the key players, the alcohol industry has in recent years been making efforts to achieve a partnership status with the state agencies in an effort of reducing alcohol-related deaths and harms (Casswell 2009, p.104). The government through BMA proposes to introduce the minimum unit pricing across the U.K in order to reduce the high number of people who lose their lives as a result of alcohol misuse and other alcohol-related accidents. Moreover, due to the fact that pricing alone wouldn’t be enough to solve alcohol misuse menace, particularly among the youth, concerned agencies with the help of the government must combine the strategy with marketing regulations and further educate the people on the danger of the alcohol consumption (Hawkins et al. 2012, p.300).


This research will employ a qualitative approach based on different interpretation from different scholars and organisations on the impacts of alcohol consumption. Moreover, the research will focus on pragmatic approaches in order to understand how various agencies and groups have been able or are trying to solve the issue of alcohol consumption and its related problems based on practical considerations. In this regard, the research will establish how agencies have been able to tackle the issue of alcohol abuse in a sensible way that perfectly applies to the situation that is affecting the people rather than relying on fixed ideas and theories that do not change with time. In addition, in order to understand the number of people affected by alcohol advertisements, the study will focus on quantitative and deductive approaches. The research will also largely rely on secondary data results and analysis published by previous organisations and scholars on the impacts of advertising alcohol brands on minors, youth and the entire population in general. Due to the nature of the area of study, the research paper will largely rely on a combination of various methods and techniques. The research will investigate the outcome of alcohol advertisement on drinking behaviour of the people; particularly children while at the same time studies the exposure in the study participants. To achieve this, the study will employ a cross-sectional approach. Finally, the research will largely rely and focus on statistical figures and results from various case studies across the U.K in order to communicate the results of the study in numbers, which in return will be a very powerful way of conveying the findings. Moreover, statistical figures and case studies will play a significant role in establishing the credibility of the research. In addition, due to the fact that most of the studies are always refuted, using statistical figures and case studies will be very useful in establishing a convergence of the research.

Research Ethics

In a bid of giving the study a go ahead, the research will get the approval from the university’s ethics committee. Moreover, the names of the individuals mentioned in different case studies and other participants will be kept confidential. In addition, the study will ask for permission from the author(s) to publish any right-protected materials and adhere to the rules set by the owners of the books. Despite the fact that the study aim at uncovering the impact of alcohol advertising, it will not use any provocative or suggestive language that may result in a legal suit against this work.


Given by the nature of this study, there is a need for consolidation of various articles that have highlighted the impacts of alcohol advertising on drinking behaviour of the people, particularly children and youth. After the approval from the university’s ethics committee to continue with the study, the research will immediately commence and it will take eight weeks to be completed.


Week 1


-  Conduct a thorough  research into previous studies on the subject matter

- Meet with the project supervisor

Week 2

- Go through the guidelines and key points provided by project supervisor and master the content of the guideline

Week 3

-Contact participants of the study and inform them of the ethics of the study in order to assure that their details will be confidential

Week 4

-Start drafting dissertation.

-meet with the participants and conduct a cross-sectional study

Week 5

- Meet the supervisor

- Work on dissertation

Week 6

-  Meet with the supervisor

- Make any necessary changes to the draft copy of the paper

Week 7

- Meet with the supervisor.

- Present findings.

- Submit a draft copy of the work to the supervisor

Week 8

- Continue working on the dissertation.

- Present the final copy of the paper to the supervisor.

- Submit the final paper.


Baggott R. Alcohol strategy and the drinks industry: a partnership for prevention? York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation; 2006.

Barry, A., Johnson, E., Rabre, A., Darville, G., Donovan, K., and Efunbumi, O. (2014)             ‘Underage Access to Online Alcohol Marketing Content: A YouTube Case Study’,            Alcohol and    Alcoholism, 50: 1, pp. 89–94

Brown, K., (February 2016) ‘Association Between Alcohol Sports Sponsorship and             Consumption: A Systematic Review’, Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2016, pp. 1–9.

Bruijn, A., Tanghe, J., Leeuw, R., Engels, R., Anderson, P., Beccaria, F., Bujalski, M., Celata,             C., Gosselt, J., Schreckenberg, D. and Słodownik, L., (2016), ‘European longitudinal     study on the relationship between adolescents’ alcohol marketing exposure and alcohol use.’ Addiction, 111: 10, pp. 1774–1783.

Casswell S. Alcohol industry and alcohol policy—the challenge ahead. Addiction. 2009;104

Chen, M-J, et al (September 2006)., 'Alcohol advertising: What makes it attractive to youth?',           Journal of Health Communications, 10, pp. 553–565, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Gayle, D. (2018) Public Health Experts Call for Ban on Alcohol Advertising in the UK [online]           available from [5 March 2018]

Harkins C. The Portman Group. British Medical Journal. 2010;340:187

Hawkins, B., Holden, C., & McCambridge, J. (2012). Alcohol industry influence on UK alcohol            policy: A new research agenda for public health. Critical Public Health, 22(3), 297–305.

Lyon, A., McCreanor, T., Goodwin, I. and Moewaka Barnes, H. (2017) Youth Drinking             Cultures In A Digital World

Ofcom, (May 2013) ‘Children’s and young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising 2007 to            2011’, p. 7

Patil, S., Winpenny, E., Elliott, M., Rohr, C., and Nolte, E. (2014) ‘Youth exposure to alcohol            advertising on television in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany’, The European         Journal of Public Health, 24: 4, pp. 561–565

Scientific Opinion of the Science Group of the European Alcohol and Health Forum (2009),            ‘ Does marketing communication impact on the volume and patterns of consumption of           alcoholic beverages, especially by young people? – a review of longitudinal studies.

Siegel, M., Kurland, R., Castrini, M., Morse, C., de Groot, A., Retamozo, C., Roberts, S., Ross,          C., and Jernigan, D. (2016) ‘Potential youth exposure to alcohol advertising on the       internet: a study of internet versions of popular television programs’, Journal of Substance Use, 21: 4, pp. 361–367

Smith, L., and Foxcroft, D (November 2007)., ‘The effect of alcohol advertising and marketing        on drinking behaviour in young people: a systematic review of published longitudinal    studies’, Alcohol Education and Research Council, now Alcohol Research UK.

The Alcohol Health Alliance - AHA (2018) available from [2 March 2018]

Tucker, J., Miles, J. and D'Amico, E., (2013). ‘Cross-lagged associations between substance use- related media exposure and alcohol use during middle school.’ Journal of Adolescent Health, 53: 4, pp. 460–464.

Waylen, A., Leary, S., Ness, A., and Sargent, J. (May 2015), ‘Research has also indicated that exposure to alcohol use in films is associated with higher risk of alcohol use and alcohol-         related problems in adolescents in the UK.’ Paediatrics, 135: 5, pp. 851–858.

August 01, 2023




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