10h May 2022 by Nivashi Nair. From the Sowetan Live
The WHO is calling for governments to integrate comprehensive restrictions or bans on alcohol marketing, as digital marketing, across borders, targets the young and heavy drinkers with “sophisticated” online marketing.
At the root alcohol marketing, both advertising and promotion, has found that alcohol is being marketed across boarders regardless of the social, economic, or cultural environment in targeted countries.
Given the sophisticated techniques of digital alcohol marketing, data on users’ habits and preferences are being collected and analyzed to improve target messages to specific groups across national borders.
WHO’s report underlines how effective it is to use users’ data, strengthened by social influencers and sharing of posts between social media users (user-generated content).
Dag Rekve of the WHO’s alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviors unit, said the rising importance of digital media means that alcohol marketing has become increasingly cross-border. This essentially leads to higher difficulties in regulating alcohol marketing in different jurisdictions. Accordingly, it is important that countries collaborate towards this grey area.
In fact, the lack of regulations is particularly concerning for children and adolescents, women and heavy drinkers. Why? Because it is scientifically proven that starting to drink alcohol at a young age is a predictor of hazardous drinking in young adulthood and beyond. Similarly, teenage drinkers are more vulnerable to harm from alcohol consumption than older drinkers.
On top of it, the report shows that young and growing populations, such as Africa and Latin America are being particularly targeted.
Heavy and dependent drinkers are another target for marketing efforts, since in many countries just 20% of current drinkers drink well over half of all alcohol consumed. Indeed, these are the people that report a strong urge to drink alcohol when confronted with alcohol-cues and should avoid exposure.
Overall, three million people worldwide die each year as a result of harmful use of alcohol — one every 10 seconds — representing about 5% of all deaths.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said alcohol robs young people, their families and societies of their lives and potential.
“Yet despite the clear risks to health, controls on the marketing of alcohol are much weaker than for other psychoactive products. Better, well enforced and more consistent regulation of alcohol marketing would both save and improve young lives across the world.”