Anti-drink ads 'waste millions'

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Indy Politics

Millions of pounds is being wasted on anti-booze campaigns because the Government doesn't understand that binge drinking is a way of life for many young people.

The campaigns fail to consider that getting drunk is now an essential part of growing up that helps friends bond, according to research published today by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The report warns that young people are aware of the short-term risks of binge drinking but ignore or are oblivious to the long-term effects on health. Many regard getting drunk as a normal but temporary part of their lives, and are confident they will give it up as they get older.

Alcohol is marketed as fun and positive, whereas health warnings about sensible drinking fail to make an impression on young people, said Professor Isabelle Szmigin, from Birmingham University Business School. "Government warnings fail to understand the juxtaposition of the social context of drinking and the dangers of excessive alcohol. This is extremely dangerous because messages which demonise alcohol at the expense of everything else make young people switch off rather than switch on.

"The narrative presented by the drinks industry portrays drinking as fun, celebratory and social, which is something that young people can relate to. Only one of these counter messages makes any sense to young people, and that's because it engages with them on their terms."

Researchers from Bath, Birmingham and London universities interviewed people aged 18 to 25. They also analysed more than 200 alcohol adverts across all media.