Cheshire East Council has called on the government to restrict alcohol advertising on TV.
The authority’s cabinet today called for a 9pm watershed for such adverts in order ‘to protect children and young people from the influence of alcohol advertising’.
The cabinet also restated its call for a minimum-pricing strategy to be introduced as part of measures to help reduce drink-related harm in our communities. The council is to work with other authorities in Cheshire and Merseyside to lobby government on this issue.
Cabinet endorsed council proposals to reduce alcohol consumption via a range of early intervention and prevention activity as part of the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.
Alcohol has been identified as one of the leading causes of ill health among local communities. The chronic effects of heavy drinking include cirrhosis of the liver, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and strokes.
Today’s moves follow Cheshire East spearheading the launch last week of an initiative to reduce drunkenness across the borough. The ‘Drink Less, Enjoy More’ campaign is primarily aimed at young people aged 18-30 and warns they risk having their night out cut short as bar staff may refuse to serve them – or ending up in casualty or a police cell.
Councillor Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health said: “We need to protect people – especially our children and young people – from being bombarded with images of alcohol consumption and from easy access to cheap drink promoted by stores.
“Alcohol misuse costs Cheshire East public services more than £136m a year – which is £369 for every man, woman and child living in our borough. And it’s not just the financial cost: alcohol misuse has devastating effects on individuals, their families, friends and local communities. It is a national problem – and it needs action.
“It is clear that self-regulation by the drinks industry is not working and we need government intervention to protect our children from harmful exposure to alcohol marketing. We know this advertising contains content and messages that appeal to children and that, due to exposure to this, children drink more and start drinking at an earlier age.
“There is also a clear link between price and the consumption of alcohol – this is why this council feels that the introduction of a minimum-pricing strategy can form a key part of wider plans to tackle the diverse problems caused by alcohol misuse.
“A great deal of work is being done with our health and wellbeing colleagues across the North West, and we think coordinated action is the right and most effective approach.”
Under proposals backed by cabinet today – which follow a notice of motion moved by councillors Sam Corcoran and Dorothy Flude in July – the council is to write to ministers to urge the government to impose a 9pm watershed for alcohol advertising on TV.
Evidence suggests that minimum pricing for alcohol would most likely reduce the consumption of heavy drinkers, who tend to choose cheaper drinks. It is expected that consumption among younger people would also be reduced by cutting access to ‘pocket money-priced’ drinks.
Any minimum-pricing structure would need to be implemented through either national legislation or local bylaws. It is felt that a regional consensus would be vital for any local bylaw to succeed, as drinkers could easily travel to neighbouring authorities to buy cheaper drinks.
A minimum-pricing strategy would apply to all licenced premises, including pubs, off-licences and supermarkets.