“This voluntary code was developed and is being monitored by the very industries that it is designed to control; the advertising and drinks sector. As a result the code is weak, full of loopholes and lacks credibility and is a mere window dressing exercise designed to present the impression of action when in fact it has no impact. A robust, statutory and totally independent advertising code that has credibility is required which has the confidence of the general public and carries serious penalties which can be imposed if breached,” stated James Doorley, Assistant Director at NYCI.
In order to protect children and young people and tackle the issue of alcohol misuse in Ireland NYCI wants the following measures to be introduced:
The Government promised that if the voluntary codes were ineffective that they would bring forward legislation. It is clear now that the codes are failing and therefore we want the introduction of legislation providing a statutory code to restrict alcohol advertising to children and young people.
The development of any new code should be developed in consultation with young people's/ childrens’ organisations and those who have expertise in public health, unlike the revised code where the Government only consulted the drinks and advertising industry.
The formation of an independent panel to monitor any new code which consists of professionals with no vested commercial interests in its implementation and experience in youth issues and public health.
The roll out of an awareness campaign to inform and educate the public about the details and terms of the new code.
As part of the new legislation a financial penalty system should be introduced if a condition of the new code is breached to deter the drinks and advertising industries from advertising inappropriately. There is no such penalty currently, if a breach is upheld the advertiser is just asked to remove the offending promotion.
The implementation of a watershed should be set down in legislation so that no alcoholic products can be advertised before 9pm. Currently, alcoholic products can be promoted after 10am as long as the audience profile of a programme is less than a quarter under the age of 18.
Source: National Youth Council of Ireland, 03/07/2008