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Alcohol On TV Encourages Drinking

Thursday, March 5th, 2009 Alcohol On TV Encourages Drinking

It has been argued that people are more likely to drink alcohol whilst watching TV according to the BBC (04 03 09).

Radboud University in the Netherlands have carried out the research, monitored specifically the behaviour of 80 young people as they watched the television. Research findings were that those who saw lots of alcohol references drank twice as much as those that did not.

From that perspective campaigners argue that there is a fundamental need to be more restrictive on alcohol advertising.

Essentially, the group of 80 were sub-divided into 4 groups. The first group watched the film American Pie, this is a film with continuous references to alcohol and for the purpose of the experiment, the commercials also used, contained alcohol inferences.

A second group watched American Pie, but no alcohol adverts.

The third saw the film 40 Days and 40 Nights, during which alcohol is portrayed much less than in American Pie, but did see adverts for alcohol.

The final group watched 40 Days and 40 Nights and no adverts for alcohol.

Thus a comprehensive cross-section was established. Nevertheless the viewing which was carried out in pairs, the participants had deliberate access to a fridge containing beer,wine and soft drinks.

The findings were that those who watched American Pie and the alcohol adverts drank nearly three bottles of alcohol, compared to 1.5 for those who watched 40 Days and 40 nights and no adverts for alcohol.

Rutger Engels, lead researcher said: “Our study clearly shows that alcohol portrayals in films and advertisements not only affects people’s attitudes and norms on drinking in society, but it might work as a cue that affects craving and subsequent drinking.”

He said the findings suggested there may be an argument for restricting advertising and introducing warnings on films.

But he added there needed to be more research to establish the long-term implications on drinking habits.

Don Shenker, Alcohol Concern chief executive supports the concept that an advertising ban was deemed necessary in order to protect children.

He further adds that, “Unfortunately, alcohol advertising and promotion on film and television usually present drinking as a positive social ritual, while leaving out the potential harm that drinking can cause.”

At this particular juncture, alcohol advertising is already currently restricted under EU rules so that companies cannot promote it using children or as an aid to social or sexual success or to help as a therapeutic aid.

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