Drinking alcohol is causally linked to an array of health problems such as mental and behavioral disorders, including alcohol dependence; major non-communicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases; and injuries and deaths resulting from violence and road traffic crashes.
Worldwide, 3 million people die each year due to harmful use of alcohol – one every 10 seconds – representing about 5% of all deaths. A disproportionate number of these alcohol-related deaths occur among younger people, with 13.5% of all deaths among those who are 20–39 years of age being alcohol-related. According to the director-general of the World Health Organisation, alcohol robs young people, their families, and societies of their lives and potential. Yet despite the clear risks to health, controls on the marketing of alcohol are much weaker than for other psychoactive products. Better, well-enforced, and more consistent regulation of alcohol marketing would save and improve young lives across the world.
A new report from the World Health Organization highlights the increasing use of sophisticated online marketing techniques for alcohol and the need for more effective regulation. It shows that young people and heavy drinkers are increasingly targeted by alcohol advertising, often to the detriment of their health.
Online Marketing of Alcohol:
- One of the most significant changes in recent years to alcohol marketing is the use of sophisticated online marketing. The collection and analysis of data on users’ habits and preferences by global Internet providers have created new and growing opportunities for alcohol marketers to target messages to specific groups across national borders.
- Targeted advertising on social media is especially effective at using such data, with its impact strengthened by social influencers and sharing of posts between social media users.
- Sponsorship of major sporting events at global, regional, and national levels is another key strategy used by transnational alcohol companies (which are gaining increasing dominance in the production and branding of alcohol beverages). Such sponsorship can significantly increase awareness of their brands to new audiences.
- The lack of regulation to address cross-border marketing of alcohol is of particular concern for children and adolescents, women, and heavy drinkers.
- Existing regulation is primarily limited to individual states, while many countries have some form of restrictions on alcohol marketing in place, generally, they tend to be relatively weak.
Over To You:
Young & growing populations in areas like Africa & Latin America are being particularly targeted. Stronger & well-enforced regulation of alcohol marketing can prevent this.