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12/10/2012

The Spanish Government gives in to pressures from the beer industry

The Spanish government takes a big step backwards in the protection of public health and proposes to allow all outdoor advertising of beverages under 20% ABV.

Sport is not an arena for alcohol promotion

This is one of the measures included in the bill that aims to further liberalize Spain’s Economy and that will be debated via emergency procedure in the coming weeks.

Advertising in sports stadiums and on billboards has been a longstanding demand from the Spanish beer industry.

Sports events offer public health authorities a perfect arena to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles. “Removing regulations that protect public health it is clearly a mistake in times of austerity” said Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare. Good health is a precondition for economic growth. It is sad to see the industry taking advantage of the present economic downturn to put pressure on governments to remove regulations that protect public health and minors. This is a clear of example of a measure the beer industry will profit from while society will pay for it through increased government expenditure on alcohol related health care and dealing with crime and disorder”.

Binge drinking, particularly among youth on weekend nights, has become a health and social issue in Spain which has important negative effects involving also non-drinkers. According to the results of a national survey (ESTUDES 2010)[1], 63% of secondary school students had drank alcohol in the last 30 days and as many as 35% had drunk to intoxication. The average age at which Spaniards begin to drink is 13,7.

Alcohol advertising creates an environment which suggests that alcohol consumption and overconsumption are normal activities and deemphasizes the risks associated with alcohol consumption. It presents drinking as an essential part youth identity and links it closely to partying, enjoyment and having a fun time. Most of alcohol advertising suggests that that all youngsters drink, that you are only cool and trendy if you drink alcohol[2]. There is robust evidence to demonstrate that the degree of youth alcohol advertising exposure is strongly and directly associated with intentions to drink, age of drinking onset, prevalence of drinking, and the amount consumed. Alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.[3]

Both, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union (EU) have acknowledged the necessity of addressing and reducing the public health and socio-economic problems associated with alcohol consumption and have both adopted in the last years strategies to complement and support their Member States actions to reduce the harms and costs brought on by alcohol

Since the adoption of the EU Alcohol Strategy in 2006[4] most European countries have strengthened the elements of their respective national alcohol policies. By weakening its marketing regulations, Spain would be going against the recommendations and efforts made at European and global levels to address alcohol related harms.

Considering the important public health concerns related to alcohol, the prevalence of binge drinking and underage drinking in Spain, and the association between alcohol advertising and alcohol use, it would be prudent for the Spanish Government to increase and not decrease efforts to curb the negative effects of alcohol advertising.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
European Alcohol Policy Alliance
Mariann Skar Secretary General
GSM: +32 (0) 474 830 041
Website: www.eurocare.org

EUROCARE (The European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is an alliance of 50 organizations working on the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe. Member organisations are involved in research and advocacy, as well as in the provision of counseling services and residential support for problem drinkers, the provision of workplace and school based programmes and the provision of information to the public.

Eurocare advocates the prevention of alcohol related harm in Europe through effective evidence based alcohol policy. www.eurocare.org

[1]ENCUESTA ESTATAL SOBRE USO DE DROGAS EN ESTUDIANTES DE ENSEÑANZAS SECUNDARIAS 2010- http://www.pnsd.msc.es/Categoria2/observa/pdf/ESTUDES_2010.pdf

[2]El impacto de la publicidad en los hábitos de consumo de bebidas alcohólicas de los adolescentes. http://www.pnsd.msc.es/Categoria2/publica/pdf/Result_Invest_Impacto_ConsumoalcoholAdolesc_CYL.pdf

[3]Science Group of the EU Alcohol and Health Forum, 2009

[4] EU strategy to support member states in reducing alcohol-related harm (European Commission, 2006).