A total ban on alcohol advertising is necessary to ensure public health. Researchers from the University of Gent state this in a new study commissioned by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO).
In Belgium, the so-called “Covenant on Advertising and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages” must unite the “public health” and “economy” interests. The Jury for Ethical Advertising Practices (JEP) monitors compliance with the Code and judges potential violations. But, according to the researchers, it is not effective: public health is hardly or not at all respected. “The JEP is a self-regulating body of the industry. It is not in their interest to protect public health, “says Ruben Kramer, one of the researchers (photo).
For example, the Covenant stipulates that minors may not be exposed to advertisements for alcohol. You may not explicitly focus on minors. But a TV spot for a beer brand before and after a football report is a perfect tool to impact youngsters. And young people have seen that through those channels anyway.
The researchers’ biggest criticism of the current situation is that the JEP does not pay enough attention to the total amount of alcohol advertisements that people are exposed to. “And that is important,” Kramer emphasizes, “the more alcohol advertising you see, the more positive you are towards alcohol, the greater the chance that people underestimate the harmful effects of alcohol. We absolutely must minimize exposure. “
Chris Van Roey, the CEO of UBA (Union of Belgium Advertisers), an organization that supports the JEP, finds the call for a ban naive. “I’m exaggerating to make my point. But if you really want to ban something, ban the product. A total ban on advertising is hypocritical. ”