russia-digital-banThe Russian Ministry Communications has said it’s willing to lift the ban of alcohol marketing in newspapers and magazines. Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media Alexei Wolin first spoke of this option at recent congress of the National Association of Broadcasters. This new stance is surprising as the alcohol marketing ban was only introduced last year as part of a comprehensive strategy by the State Duma to tackle Russia’s drinking problem. In an interview with daily newspaper Vedomosti Deputy Minister Wolin said a relaxation of the ban might be worth the consideration to avoid “catastrophic decline of print media.” He also stressed that no bills about relaxing restrictions on alcohol advertising have been put forward by the ministry: "We are waiting for proposals from media corporations and professional societies, we are willing to consider their help in the development of amendments." The Committee on Information Policy of the State Duma is ready to consider the idea of lifting the ban on advertising of alcohol and tobacco, specifically for print media. According to the committee’s chairman, Leonid Levin: “The media industry is strongly regulated, it needs concessions to increase advertising revenues, especially the print media. Subscriptions to print media are dropping, the points of sale are reduced and the advertising of alcohol can help them compensate for rising losses.” “If there are suggestions that provoke people to consume more alcohol and tobacco, we will not support [a feature bill],” deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Viktor Zvagelskii said. Vedemosti reports however that the Ministry of Health will remain a proponent of a ban on advertising of tobacco and alcohol ass an effective means of reducing the consumption of these products. Wolin also said that the Ministry is exploring the idea of returning advertising for tobacco products in mass media. Source: 11/20/14

Legal possibilities of a comprehensive alcohol advertising ban in Europe Econometric studies by Saffer and colleagues suggest that overall bans of alcohol marketing can be successful in decreasing the total alcohol consumption among adolescents. In accordance with this, in its European Action Plan (2011) the WHO recommends a total ban on alcohol advertising in Europe. The new factsheet describes the competence of the European Union to adopt a pan-European alcohol advertising ban and its legal possibilities.

The Fact Sheet concludes that a European ban is realistically achievable. Restricting the volume of alcohol advertising is one aspect of a comprehensive evidence-based alcohol policy to combat alcohol-related harm. Extensive alcohol advertising restrictions are already in place in some European countries (e.g. France, Norway and Sweden). A pan-European alcohol advertising ban is the next step in limiting the large volume of alcohol advertising in Europe, and is recommended by the World Health Organization. Existing European restrictions on advertising tobacco, gambling, and prescriptive drugs show that the EU is competent to protect its citizens by adopting extensive advertising bans. Such a ban, even when considered to be trade-distorting, can be justified on health grounds when the policy instrument proposed is seen as “proportionate” and “appropriate”. Alternatively, justification for an extensive advertising ban on economic grounds was given when an EU ban on tobacco advertising was introduced. By harmonizing volume restrictions of advertising on the internal market, distortions of tobacco advertising competition are aimed to be avoided. A similar approach can be taken by legislators who want to regulate alcohol adverting. Both the audio and the Powerpoint presentation of a short lecture on this topic by Wim van Dalen of STAP, the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy, are available on the website of EUROCARE.

The full fact sheet can be downloaded and read here

corporate social responsability With tightening regulations on alcohol marketing, alcohol producers develop new initiatives to make customers aware of their brands and products. One such recent development is the use of Corporate Social Responsibility to build on the image of the companies. This boiles down to alcohol producers claiming to take responsibility in informing customers about responsible drinking behaviour through the use of education. A challanging new development that takes with it certain dangers that are discussed in this report.

The full report can be downloaded and read here