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Communities in Scotland ‘wallpapered’ in alcohol advertising, claim campaigners

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The Scottish Government has been urged to restrict alcohol promotions in public places amid claims that communities are being “wallpapered” in booze adverts.

A report by Alcohol Focus Scotland warned the high visibility of such ads means people are “constantly bombarded with positive messages” about the effects of drinking.

The charity wants SNP and Green ministers to take further action against alcohol marketing which it claimed has become “increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to avoid”.

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That could include ending booze brands sponsoring sports events and limit adverts in public places.

It comes as the government prepares to launch a public consultation on the issue later this year.

More than a quarter of Scots are drinking at levels that bring increased risk to their health, the charity said.

Alison Douglas, Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive, said: “The current self-regulatory approach to alcohol marketing is failing to protect people and has led to our communities being wallpapered with promotions for a product that harms our health.

“We only need to think of how easily we recognize brands simply from a distinctive color or font to realize how powerful marketing is.

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“Children and young people tell us they see alcohol everywhere, all the time and they worry that adverts make alcohol seem cool and exciting. People in recovery talk of how marketing jeopardises their recovery.”

Douglas added: “People don’t just have a need to be protected from alcohol marketing they have a right to be protected.

“A number of other countries have already imposed bans on alcohol marketing and the Scottish Government has committed to consulting in the autumn.

“If we want to create a more positive culture where everyone can realize their right to health, the Scottish Government must use Scotland’s full powers to restrict alcohol marketing.”

Recommendations put forward by the group include introducing advertising restrictions for public spaces.

They could include all forms of brand marketing beyond company names.

Making in-store alcohol displays visible only to those planning to browse or purchase alcohol and mandating the display of health information on all packaging has also been suggested.

Introducing these measures would address the concept that drinking is “normal and desirable”, the charity said.

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Maree Todd, public health minister, said: “I welcome this report from an international group of experts and will study carefully its detailed findings and recommendations.

“I am determined to tackle the harmful impacts that alcohol marketing can have on children and young people, as well as the triggering effect it can have on heavy drinkers and those in recovery.

“We intend to consult on a range of potential alcohol marketing restrictions in Scotland later this year.”

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