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MSPs celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health

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The Scottish Parliament is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health – praising its contribution to the development of public health policy.

The Institute (ISMH) is the UK’s leading social marketing research centre, investigating the impact of marketing on health – and the effectiveness of policies designed to protect health.

Its researchers provide vital evidence to underpin policy and legislation around key health challenges including tobacco, alcohol, and junk food – which has, in turn, contributed to an improvement in the health of current and future generations. ISMH is a partner in two major research collaborations: the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and the Public Health Research Consortium.

Notably, the University was bestowed the Queen’s Anniversary Prize – the UK’s highest academic honour – in 2014, in recognition of the ISMH’s groundbreaking work.

Keith Brown MSP, who represents Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, has tabled a parliamentary motion at Holyrood today, to mark the ISMH’s landmark birthday. The SNP Depute Leader’s motion reads: “The Parliament congratulates the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health on its 40th anniversary.”

He asked MSPs to:

  • recognise the Institute’s substantial contribution to the development of public health policy and practice in Scotland and beyond;
  • note the pivotal role that the Institute’s staff have played in conducting research on smoke-free public places legislation, smoke-free prisons, plain cigarette packaging, minimum unit pricing and other public health successes;
  • and wish the Institute, its researchers and partners, continued success in improving Scotland's health.

Kate Hunt

Professor Kate Hunt is Acting Director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health.

The parliamentary motion coincides with a special event celebrating the ISMH at the University’s Iris Murdoch Building – with presentations from past and present staff, funders and collaborators.

ISMH research covers four key public health priorities: the impact of commercial marketing on health; the development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions based on social marketing principles; the impact of public policy on health and social welfare; and global health, including air quality and exposure to second-hand smoke.

In the 1980s and 1990s, ISMH research was among the first in the UK to show how tobacco advertising exerted a powerful influence on young people and shed light on how tobacco companies deliberately used marketing to encourage children to smoke.

Recent work in this area has looked at the impacts of the tobacco display ban, the most internationally-comprehensive evaluation of a ban on tobacco in prisons, and the introduction of plain packaging, as well as considering whether putting warnings on individual cigarettes could play a key role in reducing smoking.

institute of social marketing and health

Past and present members of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health celebrated the 40th anniversary.

The team examine connections between marketing and drinking amongst young people, and have conducted some of the world’s first studies looking at teenagers’ perceptions of alcohol advertising. They are investigating the impact of Scotland’s lower drink-drive ban, the alcohol minimum unit pricing policy, and awareness of health messages on alcohol packaging.

Their research into the effects of food marketing on childhood obesity has shaped the regulatory debate in the UK and overseas, laying the foundations for policies which have changed the face of marketing worldwide; they are working to improve the health of people who are overweight by utilising the power of sport to engage ‘hard-to-reach’ populations; and are looking into the effects of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable groups.

Judith Phillips

Professor Judith Phillips, Deputy Principal (Research) said the University was "incredibly proud" of the Institute's achievements.

Professor Kate Hunt, Acting Director of the ISMH, said: “Over the past 40 years, our researchers in the Institute for Social Marketing and Health have cemented an international reputation for their vital work in helping to improve the health of the world’s population. The team has helped to inform and influence policy around some of the greatest health challenges of our time – posed by the marketing of tobacco, alcohol, food and other products such as gambling.

“We are tremendously proud to celebrate this landmark anniversary – and all that we have achieved over the past four decades – and we look forward to further success in the years to come.”

Professor Judith Phillips, Deputy Principal (Research) at the University of Stirling, said: “The University is incredibly proud of the achievements of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health. The work of this exceptional group of researchers has had a tangible impact on the lives of people across the UK and around the world.

“Everyone at the University congratulates the Institute as it celebrates this special anniversary.”

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