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Portman Group dismisses IAS report on under-age drinking

Published:  25 February, 2016

The Portman Group has slammed a report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies linking alcohol sports sponsorship to underage drinking.

Noting that the IAS is primarily funded by an anti-alcohol charity with roots in the 19th-century temperance movement, Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "The IAS consistently ignores the official statistics which show significant and sustained declines in underage drinking during the last decade.

"The IAS also fails to mention the real-world evidence that shows an alcohol sponsorship ban in France has had no effect on reducing under-age drinking.

"Alcohol sponsorship is strictly controlled in the UK to ensure children are protected and we have made good progress in tackling under-age drinking through education, enforcing strict ID schemes and by providing alternative activities for young people."

The IAS report collated the results of seven studies into the relationship between risky drinking and sports sponsorship by alcohol brands.

All seven established a direct link, the report claimed.

Katherine Brown, director of the IAS, said: "There is strong evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to drink at an earlier age and to drink more if they already do so.

"This is why the OECD and World Health Organisation have called on governments to investigate the introduction of alcohol advertising bans."

The principal source of funding for the IAS is the Alliance House Foundation, with which the organisation also shares offices.

Alliance House grew out of the UK Temperance Alliance, formed in 1853 to fight for the outright prohibition of alcohol.

The Portman Group was established in 1989 by the UK's leading alcohol producers to promote responsible drinking.

Levels of underage drinking among 11-to-15 year olds have fallen 36% over the last 12 years, according to data from the NHS.

A French ban on alcohol marketing and sponsorship, introduced in 1991, has been wholly ineffective, with a range of reports on under-age and young drinkers all revealing upward trends.