Alcohol marketing expert puts onus on Government to avert crisis

An expert on international alcohol marketing has said correct government policy intervention can prevent a public health crisis.

Dr David Jernigan, who has advised the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank on the subject, said research has shown the greater the exposure to marketing, the more likely an individual is to develop problems with alcohol.

Longitudinal studies in Europe, the US and Asia have linked marketing to young people’s progression from experimentation to problem drinking.

Dr Jernigan said aspects of the French approach have proven successful – not linking the marketing of alcohol to lifestyle, celebrities or sports events.

“It’s role modelling. Young people see themselves in advertising and alcohol advertising will never show you anything negative,” he told The Irish Times before addressing the national conference of the Alcohol Forum in Donegal on Friday, with the theme “Ireland, Irishness and Alcohol: Changing the Relationship”.

The Alcohol Forum is a registered charity working to “prevent and reduce alcohol related harms in communities”. Coincidentally, its fourth annual conference coincides with the final stages of the often controversial Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, currently before the Seanad.

Dr Jernigan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Behaviour and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

While not commenting explicitly on the Irish legislative provisions, his work and research focuses squarely on many of the issues that have ignited debate.

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