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The appropriateness of promoting products such as alcoholic drinks and cigarettes has long been the source of debate due their potentially health-damaging characteristics. In the case of alcohol, this also extends to the antisocial behaviour that may result from excessive drinking. This has manifested itself in what has more recently been described as ‘binge drinking’. The situation to which this term refers arises from the large numbers of mainly young people who frequent town and city centres on weekend evenings, consuming large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time. This causes problems as a result of the numbers of and behaviour of people moving from bar to bar during the course of the evening. In worst cases, at the end of such evenings, as bars and clubs close almost simultaneously, revellers empty onto town-centre streets, causing disturbances which often result in police action and/or admissions to hospital accident and emergency departments. The negative aspects of binge drinking have received widespread news media coverage. Along with other marketing issues including distribution and pricing, advertising of alcohol has been the subject of criticism for promoting excessive consumption and related behavioural issues. The limiting of alcohol-related media advertising and content has been incorporated within the codes of practice published by bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority for some years. There have also been a number of responses from within the drinks industry itself, anxious to limit the potentially damaging effects of adverse publicity on their business. The Portman Group is an industry body consisting of major drinks manufacturing businesses, which supply the majority of alcoholic drinks in the UK market. The values and beliefs of the Portman Group underpin their actions: z The drinks industry has a legitimate and important role to play in combating alcohol misuse. z Enlightened corporate social responsibility is positively good for business. z The consumption of alcohol in moderation (as defined by the current responsible drinking guidelines in the UK) is compatible with a healthy lifestyle. z Effective alcohol policy balances legislation, self-regulation and personal responsibility. The focus is on education and prevention, these being preferable. The Portman Group belief is that a higher profile should be given to teaching about alcohol in schools and other educational settings. Portman’s Code of Practice applies to drinks packaging and labelling as well as advertising and other promotional activities. Any complaints received are reviewed by an Independent Complaints Panel. The Code of Practice is continually updated to reflect and take account of changes in the market for alcoholic drinks and the ways in which they are marketed, both by the drinks manufacturers themselves and drinks retailers. In addition to membership of and support for trade initiatives such as the Portman Group, many individual drinks companies, retailers and distributors have developed their own approaches to promoting responsible drinking by consumers and the marketing methods employed to promote their products and brands. The Diageo Group is one of the world’s leading producers of alcoholic drinks with brands including Guinness, Smirnoff, Cuervo, Johnnie Walker and Baileys. The Diageo website contains a specific section www.drinkiq.comwhich contains relevant information about responsible drinking. It further provides details of initiatives in each of the global markets in which they operate. Such industry initiatives work together with regulators such as the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure consistency. Source: www.portman-group.org.uk , accessed 7 November 2011; www.diageo.com , accessed 7 November 2011; www.drinkiq.com , accessed 7 November 2011
Question From a consumer perspective, what are the advantages of industry- or company-led codes of practice, compared to legislative monitoring and control?
Task Access Diageo’s drinkiq website. Select three different markets and compare the different initiatives related to promoting responsible drinking.
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