“The ad they wouldn’t run” – anti-underage-drink campaign refused billboard sites near Dublin

An anti-underage-drink campaign by a philanthropic foundation has been refused on high-profile billboard sites near Dublin on the grounds that it is too political.

An initiative of the Cork-based TOMAR Trust, the Drink is a Drug outdoor campaign aims to encourage parents to delay the age at which young people partake of alcohol. The Trust has been providing funding for education, community development, health and sports for young people for over two decades.

The campaign, which has run previously in both print and outdoor, was declined by the media agency concerned as it was deemed ‘political advertising’.

Campaign spokesperson Declan Bourke commented: “Is it ok for our children to be exposed to messages glorifying drink and drawing positive associations with sport and aspirational living, but not to see an ad pointing out the dangers of underage drinking? Society is not being served well here.”

“This is the second time elements of the advertising community have refused to communicate this message.”

Drink is a Drug seeks to counter the glorification of alcohol in advertising by stating a simple fact.

Alcohol consumption during teenage years has been shown to cause lifelong brain damage, as the brain is still developing. Alongside the risk of developing dependence on alcohol in later years, alcohol in adolescence has been linked to a number of developmental issues.

Eunan McKinney of Alcohol Action Ireland commented: “Every day our children are unfairly exposed to a tsunami of alcohol marketing – it’s present on every phone, in every high street and every home. No longer can we, as a society, accept that the alcohol industry can retain the principal role as the educators of our young on their relationship with alcohol.”

“Meantime, significant measures within legislation passed by the Oireachtas, such as those to control the content of future alcohol adverts and ridding the marketplace of impotent voluntary advertising codes, remain dormant.”