27 July 2018 In General Health

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: To examine the prevalence and design elements of the voluntary health warning labels and related industry initiatives on a purposive sample of alcoholic beverage containers sold in New Zealand (NZ), a country with no mandatory health warning labels.

DESIGN AND METHODS: We selected a purposive (e.g. low-cost) sample of 59 local and imported beers, wines and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage containers available in NZ in 2016-2017. We documented the occurrence, content, size, appearance and position of messages concerning drinking during pregnancy, drink-driving, other health effects and industry-led initiatives that could relate to warnings; and collected data about alcohol content, standard drinks, ingredients and energy information.

RESULTS: A majority (80%) of the alcoholic beverage containers had a pregnancy-related warning, 73% had industry-led initiatives (e.g. advising 'responsible' consumption) and 19% had drink-driving/heavy machinery warnings. Warning labels were small, with the average area of pregnancy-related and drink-driving/heavy machinery pictograms being 45 and 36 mm(2) , respectively (i.e. pea-size). The average heights of pregnancy-related and drink-driving text were 1.6 and 2.2 mm, respectively. Pregnancy-related pictograms occupied between an average of 0.13% (wine) and 0.21% (ready-to-drink) of the available surface area of the alcoholic beverage container (i.e. less than 1/400th of the available space). Drink-driving pictograms occupied an average of 0.12% (imported beer), and 0.13% (NZ beer) of the available surface area.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Voluntary recommendations in NZ appear to have been inadequate for producing health warnings on alcoholic beverage containers that are consistent with evidence-informed recommendations for effective labels. This finding suggests that mandatory standardised labelling outlining alcohol-related risks may be required to ensure adequate consumer information.

'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol
22 June 2017 In General Health

OBJECTIVES: Alcohol is a significant source of dietary calories and is a contributor to obesity. Industry pledges to provide calorie information to consumers have been cited as reasons for not introducing mandatory ingredient labelling. As part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal (RD) in England, alcohol retailers and producers committed to providing consumers with information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. This study examines what was achieved following this commitment and considers the implications for current industry commitments to provide information on alcohol calories.

STUDY DESIGN: Analysis of RD pledge delivery plans and progress reports. Assessment of calorie information in supermarkets and in online stores.

METHODS: (i) Analysis of the content of pledge delivery plans and annual progress reports of RD signatories to determine what action they had committed to, and had taken, to provide calorie information. (ii) Analysis of the availability of calorie information on product labels; in UK supermarkets; and on online shopping sites and websites.

RESULTS: No information was provided in any of 55 stores chosen to represent all the main UK supermarkets. Calorie information was not routinely provided on supermarkets' websites, or on product labels.

CONCLUSIONS: One of the stated purposes of the RD was to provide consumers with the information to make informed health-related choices, including providing information on the calorie content of alcoholic drinks. This study indicates that this did not take place to any significant extent. The voluntary implementation of alcohol calorie labelling by industry needs to continue to be carefully monitored to determine whether and how it is done.

27 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study is to describe the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos.

METHOD: We used inductive thematic analysis to explore the lyrics and visual imagery in 49 UK Top 40 songs and music videos previously found to contain alcohol content and watched by many British adolescents aged between 11 and 18 years and to examine if branded content contravened alcohol industry advertising codes of practice.

RESULTS: The analysis generated three themes. First, alcohol content was associated with sexualised imagery or lyrics and the objectification of women. Second, alcohol was associated with image, lifestyle and sociability. Finally, some videos showed alcohol overtly encouraging excessive drinking and drunkenness, including those containing branding, with no negative consequences to the drinker.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that YouTube music videos promote positive associations with alcohol use. Further, several alcohol companies adopt marketing strategies in the video medium that are entirely inconsistent with their own or others agreed advertising codes of practice. We conclude that, as a harm reduction measure, policies should change to prevent adolescent exposure to the positive promotion of alcohol and alcohol branding in music videos.

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