News from Alcohol Focus Scotland
On the 19th of June MSPs from across the political spectrum debated the need for Scotland’s children to be better protected from the negative effects of alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy food marketing following a Member’s Motion lodged by Kenneth Gibson MSP. This motion highlighted the discussion of these issues at the Improving Scotland’s Health: 2021 and Beyond Cross-Party Group in February.
Kenneth Gibson opened the debate by urging the Chamber to recognise the role of marketing in the consumption of health-harming products such as alcohol. He considered the evidence presented by Dr Nathan Critchlow at the CPG on how exposure to alcohol marketing was associated with an increase in consumption, higher-risk drinking and susceptibility to alcohol among young people. He also praised the approach of Scottish Women’s Football in rejecting alcohol sponsorship deals for sporting events and encouraged other sporting organisations to follow. He called for the Scottish Government to formally acknowledge alcohol marketing had “no place in childhood” and that all children should play and learn in places that are protected from exposure to alcohol advertising.
MSPs from the SNP, Labour, and Scottish Conservatives raised various issues including banning outdoor advertising and limiting adverts in cinemas, consulting with children and young people, supporting young people whose parents have alcohol problems, and the need for education at an early age.
Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey responded on behalf of the Scottish Government highlighting the steps that have already been taken to tackle Scotland’s problems with alcohol. She also pointed to the new alcohol prevention framework where the Scottish Government have committed to pressing the UK Government to restrict television and cinema advertising of alcohol and to consult on a range of measures, including mandatory restrictions on alcohol marketing.
Alcohol Focus Scotland believe urgent action is required to protect our children and young people by legislating for mandatory restrictions on alcohol marketing. Such controls are recognised by the World Health Organization as one of the most effective and cost-effective measures in preventing and reducing alcohol harm.
All the speakers (Kenneth Gibson, Clare Haughey, Emma Harper, Rona Mckay, Monica Lennon, Alison Harris, and Brian Whittle) have signed the pledge developed by Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, BMA Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, that ‘all children should play, learn and socialise in places that are healthy and safe, protected from exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship.’