On the 25th of May, the European Commission adopted a new legislative proposal amending the AVMSD. Regulation of commercial communication as well as protection of minors are elements of the directive, and therefore the AVMSD is highly important when discussing exposure of alcohol advertisement, especially to young people.
The problematic issues around the current AVMSD, which was adopted in 2010, have been highlighted by several research articles and a series of seminars with representation of officials from DG Connect, including a panel on the issue at the 6th European Alcohol Policy Conference in Brussels, November 2015. The main concerns have been that the current AVMSD is relying on self regulation from the industry to protect minors and public health and only giving weak guidelines, as well as categorising alcohol advertisements within the category of ‘television advertisements’ only rather than all commercial communications, thus exempting it from restrictions on sponsorship and product placements. Another problematic issue has been the principle of country of origin, where for example Sweden, having a ban on alcohol advertising has seen exposure of alcohol marketing on what appear to be Swedish channels, but broadcast from the UK, therefore following UK regulations.
Despite a growing evidence on the association between alcohol marketing and early onset of alcohol consumption and harm levels, the new proposal has failed to take the concerns into consideration and suggests to continue a self regulatory policy approach to marketing of alcoholic beverages.
The AVMSD will now be sent to the European Parliament and to the Council for further discussion.