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Ban Alcohol Ads, British Medical Association Says

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Citing an alarming rise in alcohol consumption and drinking-related illness and death, the British Medical Association (BMA) is calling for a ban on all types of alcohol advertising, the BBC reported Sept. 8.

A new BMA report says that the alcohol industry spends billions of dollars on advertising each year, including an increasing amount of money on sports sponsorships. The group said that voluntary industry marketing guidelines have been ineffective.

BMA also has called for minimum prices for alcoholic beverages in order to control consumption. About one-third of the British adult population drinks in excess of recommended guidelines.

“The BMA is not anti-alcohol,”  said Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics. “As doctors our focus is to ensure that individuals drink sensible so they do not put their health and lives in danger.”

However, a spokesperson for the U.K. Department of Health said the current approach to alcohol prevention is working: “We're working harder than ever to reduce alcohol harm — but it's not always right to legislate. We take all evidence into account and react proportionately.” And Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the U.K. Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the BMA proposals would cost jobs.

“Britain already has amongst the highest taxes on alcohol in Europe,” said Beadles. “It should be obvious by now that higher taxation and higher prices don't curb alcohol misuse. The drinks industry is funding a major campaign to change drinking patterns amongst young adults. We believe culture change is more likely to be achieved through long term education and tough enforcement.”

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