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Advertising not the key influence in binge drinking

Published:  23 July, 2008

It is social networks and not advertising that prove to be the key influence in binge drinking, the Advertising Association believes.

A new study by the group has stated personal friendship networks hold the key to tackling binge drinking in the UK.

A poll of 18-24-year-olds discovered that 85% of binge drinkers believe most or all of their friends binge drink compared to just 41% for non-binge drinkers.

It also found that only 3% of binge drinkers have no or hardly any friends that binge drink compared to 22% or non-binge drinkers.

Baroness Buscombe, Advertising Association chief executive, said: "This research shows conclusively that the people around us are the key influences in terms of our relationship with alcohol, not alcohol advertising. Not only do the findings of this study confirm this to be the case but they also demonstrate that a new approach to tackle binge drinking is required.

"Alcohol misuse is clearly a hugely important social issue that must be taken seriously. This new and compelling research highlighting the importance of personal friendship networks shows that tackling alcohol misuse is about encouraging behavioral change so people develop a healthy relationship with alcohol."

The advertising industry could be used as "a positive and powerful tool" in tackling the issue, she concluded.