MPs are suggesting new rules to help prevent alcohol abuse.The House of Commons health committee is pushing for strict new rules on the marketing of alcohol. After a review of the governments English alcohol strategy, the committee came to the conclusion that the alcohol industry was not doing enough to stop problem drinking.
MPs have said the current policy, which came out in March, simply focusing on binge drinking. It gave local agencies the right to restrict opening hours in the hope that this would make alcohol less accessible to those who have a problem.
Unfortunately, this does very little to prevent anything but binge drinking. Most alcoholics will buy their drink of choice in bulk and they often hide bottles around their home. That means they are unaffected by closing times or any other regulations that only focus on the time of sale.
As the health committee MPs point out, there are still around 7,000 alcohol-related deaths in the UK each year. More must be done to tackle the problem as a whole, rather than fixating on a single aspect of problem drinking.
One positive step taken by the drinking industry was a series of pledges last year. The drinks industry promised to make their products safer and act responsibly. But for MPs like health committee chairman, Stephen Dorrell, these pledges were not enough.
He said the promises made by drinks firms were only the bare minimum and that producing safe and responsible products was a company’s civic duty.
He believes the alcohol companies are not being honest about their motivations for investing in advertising. While the industry claims their advertising is only promoting brand loyalty, Dorrell believes they are trying to recruit new drinkers.
"We don't think the industry has a sufficiently well-developed sense of what it takes to trade responsibly," Dorrell said.
The new report from the health committee suggests using a system of alcohol regulations similar to Loi Evin in France.
The French law bans alcohol advertising at sporting events and cinemas. It also makes it illegal to target young people with alcohol advertising.
Other measures backed by MPs include a minimum price for alcohol. While this could be effective, many believe it needs to be closely monitored to insure minimum pricing does not drive people to buy counterfeit alcohol or other unregulated spirits.