A group of more than 30 health leaders says exposing alcohol sponsorship to children is creating links between drinking brands and sport.
An open letter has been published from UK health chiefs calling for the government to “listen to the people rather than to big business” and regulate alcohol advertising more effectively.
Its authors include the heads of the Royal College of Physicians, Anaesthetists and Nursing along with charity directors and health campaigners.
This year’s World Cup tournament featured one instance of alcohol advertising for every minute of football played, according to the letter.
Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising leads young people to drink more Letter from health chiefs
Millions of families at Christmas will “see the countless alcohol marketing messages that go hand in hand with our national sports”, the letter says.
“In the UK, alcohol sponsorship is as commonplace as advertising for cereal or soap powder,” it adds.
“It would be considered outrageous if high-profile teams such as Everton or Celtic were to become brand ambassadors for tobacco, and so why is it acceptable for alcohol?”
“Self-regulation of alcohol advertising isn’t working when it allows drink brands to dominate sporting events that attract children as well as adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years,” it adds.
“Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising leads young people to drink more, and to drink at an earlier age.”