[Tychy has today received a letter from a group of medical leaders, public health campaigners and health charities calling for the end of all alcohol advertising in sport.]
This Christmas millions of families will enjoy a full sporting calendar, either on TV or in person – a chance to spend quality time with family and friends. They will also see the countless alcohol marketing messages that go hand in hand with our national sports.
Viewers of the World Cup this year, including millions of children and young people, saw one example of alcohol advertising for every minute of playing time. Sport should inspire young people to go out and win, but it is dangerous to take this positivity at face value. Our young people are so gormless and feeble – such pushovers, in fact – that a bunch of adverts is likely to come along and take over their whole lives and ruin them forever. Statistics out there somewhere should prove that young people’s life chances are blighted to a suitable percentage. By adverts.
Nonetheless, this is not just about the evidence. Drink brands certainly dominate sporting events that attract children as well as adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years. But when it comes to our assertion that young people are brainwashed in such a way, there’s no evidence. It’s an article of faith.
Worship, worship the unresiliant teenager! Bow down and prostrate yourself before their failure and weakness! Believe!
You might deem it improbable that alcohol advertisers would target a demographic which is unable to legally buy alcohol. It might appear strange that such advertisers would be interested in young people who, on reaching 18, go out and purchase the cheapest and most unglamorous alcohol products. But let’s return to the evidence. Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising leads young people to drink more, and to drink at an earlier age. It also shows that alcohol consumption is declining steeply amongst the young. So the evidence is rather like a weathercock, swinging merrily this way and that, and yet if we mention “evidence” often enough it should disguise our profoundly ideological hatred of pleasure and freedom.
Let’s consider some very personal evidence. Whilst we were researching this letter, we looked at countless images of alcohol advertising in sport. We soon found that our fingers were trembling on the keys of our laptop, and so, naturally, we had a wee tipple just to steady our hands. One led to another, and before long we had drunk enough alcohol to sink the British navy in. And this was all because of looking at adverts.
So ye’ll listen to us, pal, about these adverts, eh, or else we’ll come round and make yeh listen! Isha conspiracy by these huge conglom… huge alcohol conglombas… alcohol conglomagumbas… eets… to make us look at pictures and drink more beer.
So that’s more beer. Oh go on then, jush one forda road.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore chair, Alcohol Health Alliance UK
Professor Jane Dacre president, Royal College of Physicians
Dr J-P van Besouw president, Royal College of Anaesthetists
Dr Peter Carter chief executive, Royal College of Nursing
Professor Colin Drummond chair of Addictions Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Clifford Mann president, College of Emergency Medicine
Shirley Cramer chief executive, Royal Society for Public Health
Kevin Boredom, party leader of the Institute of Stalinist Advanced Healthcare.
Dr Adrian Boyle chair, College of Emergency Medicine quality committee
Professor Frank Murray president, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Professor Robin Touquet vice-chairman, Medical Council on Alcohol
Dr Peter Rice chair, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP)
Eric Carlin director, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP)
Katherine Brown director, Institute of Alcohol Studies
Professor John Ashton president, UK Faculty of Public Health
Professor Jonathan Shepherd director, Violence Research Group, Cardiff University
Colin Shevills, director, Balance
Diane Goslar, patient representative, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Chris Record consultant hepatologist, Newcastle upon Tyne
Mike Suicide-Watch, director of the Campaign to Neuter Young People.
Dr Mark Bellis alcohol lead, UK Faculty of Public Health
Dr Kieran Moriarty CBE British Society of Gastroenterology
Professor Nick Sheron Population hepatology, University of Southampton
Paul Lincoln OBE chief executive officer, UK Health Forum
Professor Marsha Morgan reader in medicine and honorary consultant physician, UCL
Mariann Skar secretary-general, Eurocare
Beryl Tinfoil-Hatt, a little old lady in Scunthorpe who believes that her can of Blackthorn Cider is trying to telepathically manipulate her.
Dr Evelyn Gillan chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
Professor Martin McKee CBE president, EUPHA (European Public Health Association)
Nichola Coates chief executive, Faculty of Occupational Medicine
Professor Gerard Hastings University of Stirling
Dr Zulfiquar Mirza College of Emergency Medicine
Professor Rob Poole co-director, Centre For Mental Health and Society, Bangor University
Suzanne Costello chief executive officer, Alcohol Action Ireland
Jackie Ballard chief executive, Alcohol Concern
Dr Diane Abandonall-Hope, policy director of Life Without Alcohol.
Andrew Langford chief executive, British Liver Trust
Professor Linda Bauld deputy director, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, and chair in behavioural research for cancer prevention, Cancer Research UK
Dr Andrew Fraser director of public health science, NHS Health Scotland
Professor Eileen Kaner director, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University
Dear medical professionals and leading public-health campaigners,
Will you please stop sending me these bloody letters! I have no idea why you have targeted my website for your preposterous message (though I admire your good luck with the post so close to Christmas). Might not a news outlet such as the Guardian be more appropriate?