The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the regulation of online adverts by alcohol vendors which target young heavy drinkers.
The global health agency made the call in a report posted on its website on Tuesday.
It stated that young people and heavy drinkers are major targets of the vendors, noting that excessive alcohol consumption robs young people, their families, and societies of their lives and potential.
According to WHO, a well enforced and more consistent regulation of alcohol marketing would both save and improve the lives of young people across the world.
It said “One of the biggest changes in recent years to alcohol marketing is the use of sophisticated online marketing.
“The rising importance of digital media means that alcohol marketing has become increasingly cross-border
“This makes it more difficult for countries that are regulating alcohol marketing to effectively control it in their jurisdictions. More collaboration between countries in this area is needed.
“ Worldwide, 3 million people die each year as a result of harmful use of alcohol – one every 10 seconds – representing about 5% of all deaths. A disproportionate number of these alcohol-related deaths occur among younger people, with 13.5% of all deaths among those who are 20–39 years of age being alcohol-related” it added.
WHO noted that studies have shown that drinking alcohol at a young age is a predictor of hazardous drinking in young adulthood. Also, teenage drinkers are more vulnerable to harm from alcohol consumption than older drinkers.
Furthermore, it stated that alcohol consumption among women is an important growth sector for alcohol production and sales.
“While three-quarters of the alcohol that the world drinks is consumed by males, alcohol marketers tend to see the lower rate of women drinking as an opportunity to grow their market, often depicting drinking by women as a symbol of empowerment and equality”.
“They organize corporate social responsibility initiatives, on topics such as breast cancer and domestic violence, and engage with women known for their success in areas such as sports or the arts to promote brands of alcohol” WHO added.
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