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Professor's case for protecting kids from alcohol advertising

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The case for protecting children and young people from alcohol marketing will be made by Professor Gerard Hastings of the University of Stirling at a lecture in Inverness this month.

Professor Hastings, Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at Stirling, will make the case at the University’s Highland Campus at the Centre for Health Science, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on Thursday 19 May at 5.30pm.

Professor Hastings says: “There is good evidence that alcohol advertising encourages children to start drinking earlier than they otherwise would and to drink more when they do so.

“Furthermore, the 2009 enquiry by the UK House of Commons Health Select Committee provided a first ever look behind the scenes of alcohol marketing and showed that the current regulatory regime is clearly failing.”

Professor Hastings’ lecture follows the introduction of a private member’s bill by Sarah Wollaston MP, which hopes to tackle the problem of children’s exposure to excessive alcohol advertising. She proposes that the UK should follow the French example and ban advertising in all media accessible by children and at all sports and cultural events.

Professor Hastings said the introduction of the private member’s bill is “a positive step towards protecting children and young people from harmful advertising.

“Young people are being absolutely drowned in alcohol advertising and promotion. Recent research has painted a powerful picture of young people being inundated with messages that depict drinking as normal, fun and something we should be doing all the time, which is an unhelpful norm.

“This is not a ban on alcohol advertising; it’s simply aiming to reduce vast swathes of it to protect children and young people, and also to make it more factual so that consumers can make informed decisions.

“We know there are serious health issues attached to drinking so we want to change behaviour in society. People should be able to choose not to drink without being made to feel as though they have to excuse themselves.”

Professor Hastings’ presentation forms part of the Stirling Lectures, a series of lectures presented by researchers from the University of Stirling who are internationally recognised in their field. These free lectures focus on a range of issues relevant to communities across the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland and are open to everyone.

To book a place, please telephone Liz Beattie on 01463 255 649 or email hct1@stir.ac.uk

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