Russia prepares for ban on beer advertising

Can tighter curbs on alcohol advertising stem the flow of alcohol related problems in Russia?

Anyone with an interest in the effect of alcohol advertising on consumer choice will no doubt be watching developments in Russia closely.  A country where more than half of all deaths of people aged 15 to 54 are attributable to alcohol.

Russia’s beer consumption has more than tripled in the past 15 years, boosted by low prices, ready availability and lax regulation.  In an attempt to reverse the trend beer advertising on television has been banned between 7am and 10pm since 2004.

The new ban, in force from July 2012, will now prohibit all beer advertising.

The law signed by President Dmitry Medvedev, himself closely linked to anti-alcohol policies, also extends to include a ban on the sale of beer in Russian airports, bus stops, railway stations and certain other public places from 2013.

Can it work?  Well there is strong evidence that advertising expenditure correlates with consumption in the UK.

However, somewhat counter intuitively, the effect of the 2004 changes show that Russian beer consumption actually spiked shortly after the 2004 advertising restrictions were introduced.

As the law comes into effect advertisers claim the law is misguided and pre-emptively move towards greater digital marketing spends (digital marketing will still be permitted), whilst prevention advocates say that it will prove a vital pillar in overall attempts to curb consumption.

With a population of over 140 million the effect of this law change will have far reaching implications for those involved in public health policy in the UK.

Sources:
AdAge 2/1/2012 – link
American Association of Wine Economists 04/2011 – link
Daily Telegraph 23/2/11 – link
The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9682, Pages 2201 – 2214, 27 June 2009 – link

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