Calls by The Portman Group for a high-profile government campaign to highlight the dangers of binge drinking have been welcomed by the industry.
The Portman Group said a long-term programme, similar to the approach taken by the government with its anti-smoking campaign, could help to change antisocial trends.
“There needs to be a high-profile public education programme to highlight the dangers of excessive drinking,” said Jim Minton, Portman’s director of communications. “The anti-smoking campaign has shown that, over time, behaviour can and does change.”
Minton’s comments come as it was revealed earlier this week
that £40,000 was spent by the government on anti-drinking ads last year compared with £25m on a stop-smoking campaign.
Paul Hegarty, communications manager at Coors Brewers, said: “The key is not only to increase awareness but also in motivating people to follow that. Portman has done a really good job and if we can work in partnership with the government it would be even more effective.”
The industry, individually and via The Portman Group, already contributes heavily to promoting responsible drinking messages.
“Whatever the government decides, it must ensure that the campaign is long term. The Portman Group spends £1m on responsible drinking campaigns and we are developing a new cinema ad aimed at young men,” said Minton.
Hegarty noted: “It is in all our interests to address the minority on this so that the majority can enjoy drinking sensibly.”
By the end of this year, health warnings are likely to appear on 85% of all beer and spirit cans and bottles in the UK, seen as a bid by the industry to pre-empt compulsive hard-hitting health warnings similar to those seen on cigarette packets.
Sonya Hook