CHILDREN on Wearside are more likely to recognise popular booze brands rather than leading biscuit, crisp and ice cream products, according to a new shock report out today.
A survey of 10 and 11-year-olds across the North East revealed almost half had drank alcohol, with children who used social media and watched TV after the watershed more likely to have tried drinking.
The report, from North East alcohol office Balance, also said that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to drink more, and to start drinking at an earlier age.
Among the findings of the survey, which questioned 202 youngsters, were brand recognition of Foster’s lager was particularly high at 98 per cent, ranking above McVitie’s biscuits at 85 per cent, McCoy’s crisps at 91 per cent and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at 84 per cent. Around four in five children said that they recognised the Foster’s “Brad and Dan” TV advert campaign, while two thirds or more recognised Smirnoff and WKD as alcohol brands.
Balance, which is calling for a minimum unit price for alcohol to be set by the Government, says the findings offer further evidence that under 18s should be more “protected” from booze advertising.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s no surprise that school children are so familiar with alcohol brands when the alcohol industry spends around £800million a year on marketing its products.
“Our young people are bombarded with this excessive marketing when they turn on the TV, go to the cinema, use social media and watch their favourite sports teams – it’s not right. Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol promotion in the UK normalises drinking for young people and encourages them to drink at younger ages and in greater quantities. We need to see stricter regulations put in place to protect our children from this level of exposure to alcohol.
“The first step in a phased approach should see a ban on TV alcohol advertising before the 9pm watershed to reduce the number of children in the viewing audience.
“Support for a ban of this kind is at an all-time high here in the North East with almost three in four people backing the measure in a recent survey.”
Professor Gerard Hastings, founder of the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling and member of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “This research shows that alcohol marketing is clearly making an impression on our children.
“Existing evidence shows that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more.
“As the RBS 6 Nations kicks off with Guinness as its “official beer”, thousands of children across the UK will once again see alcohol associated with a major sporting event.
“Alcohol companies claim only to advertise their products to adults, but children are consuming the same media and taking in the same pro-alcohol messages as adults.”