8:44am Thursday 15th March 2012
© Press Association
CHILDREN as young as 10 are more familiar with leading alcohol brands than those for popular snacks, according to a new survey.
Research involving more than 400 children aged 10 and 11 found 79 per cent correctly recognised Carlsberg as an alcoholic drink.
This was higher than the proportion recognising Ben and Jerry's as a brand of ice cream (74 per cent) and Mr Kipling cakes as a food (41 per cent).
Some 79 per cent of those surveyed also recognised the logo for Smirnoff vodka as an alcohol drink, with awareness highest among those pupils who had tried alcohol.
The study, for Alcohol Concern, involved showing the brand names and logos of common alcohol products, as well as images from TV alcohol advertisements.
Youngsters were also shown brand images, logos and TV adverts for popular non-alcoholic products such as soft drinks and breakfast cereals.
The children were asked to say whether the products were a "food", "soft drink" or "alcoholic drink".
The study found 75 per cent correctly associated an image of the fictional characters Brad and Dan from a Fosters TV advert with alcohol.
This was higher than those who correctly identified an image from a Cadbury's drumming gorilla advert as being for a food product (42 per cent).
Alcohol Concern supports a move towards greater regulation of broadcast alcohol advertising, as well as reviewing alcohol industry sponsorship of cultural and sporting events.
It says promotion of alcohol products should be based on factual information such as the strength, place of origin and ingredients, and must include a clear health warning.
A spokesman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said: "It is imperative that we have robust, evidence-based alcohol advertising rules in place to ensure appropriate levels of consumer protection, especially for children and young people.
“Both European law and the UK Broadcasting Code set out strict criteria which mean that broadcast advertising for alcoholic drinks cannot be targeted at young people, or encourage immoderate consumption.
"The regulation of alcohol advertising is considered closely by Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority and, where appropriate, they have taken action to strengthen the alcohol advertising rules.
“We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the UK's regulatory regimes to ensure that there is sufficient protection for the public, particularly children and young people, including the regulation of new digital media."
Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents alcohol producers, said: "The claim that awareness of alcohol brands is causing more children to drink alcohol directly contradicts the latest statistics which show a continued and significant downward trend in the number of children trying alcohol.
“The UK has strict rules to prevent alcohol being marketed or sold to children and these rules are rigorously enforced."
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