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Addiction. 2000 Dec;95 Suppl 4:S597-608.

Marketing alcohol to young people: implications for industry regulation and research policy.

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  • 1Centre for Social Marketing, University of Strathclyde, 173 Cathedral Street, Glasgow G4 0RQ, Scotland, UK.


This paper focuses on the marketing of alcohol to young people in the United Kingdom, but the lessons that emerge have international significance. Alcohol is a global enterprise and recent consolidation means that it is controlled by a decreasing number of expanding multi-nationals. Alcohol companies are able to allocate significant resources to researching consumer preferences, developing new products and promoting them on an international level. Recent years have seen a growth in the value that youth culture attaches to brand labels and symbols and a move away from the healthy-living ethos. The alcohol industry's response to these trends has been to design alcoholic beverages that appeal to young people, using well-informed and precisely targeted marketing strategies. This has led to growing concerns about the implications for public health and a demand for tighter controls to regulate alcohol marketing practices. In the United Kingdom, controls on alcohol are piecemeal and reactive and the current system of voluntary regulation appears ineffective. This paper argues for more research to establish current industry practice and inform the development of a comprehensive regulatory structure and system of monitoring.

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