A total ban on the advertising of alcohol is necessary from the public health point of view, according to a study conducted at the University of Ghent for the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office. Researchers compared the impact of alcohol advertising in various European countries. In the second part, the study probed the alcoholic drinks industry and the health sector equally concerning the sort of regulation they thought best.
“France is stricter than Belgium. In spite of fears of economic carnage, it had already chosen in 1991 to no longer authorise alcohol brands to sponsor sporting events,” researcher Ruben Kramer recalled. “The 1998 football World Cup in France showed that vacant spaces were immediately filled by other companies.”
In Belgium, there is an agreement in alcoholic drinks advertising and marketing signed by the various parties involved. Advertising ethics panel JEP watches over compliance with this code of good conduct and can, if necessary, impose fines in the event of infractions.
But according to researchers, this does not work because the public health aspect hardly comes into it. “JEP is the industry’s self-regulating body. It is not in its own interests to safeguard public health,” Ruben Kramer considered.
As far as the Belgian union of advertisers (UBA) are concerned, a total ban would, in any case, be naive: “If you really want to ban something, then ban the product.” The public health minister, Maggie De Block (Open Vld), is not very enthusiastic about the idea of a total ban either.