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TV campaign uses shock tactics to tackle binge drinking

Hard hitting ads show drunken nights end in carnage and tears

OnMedica staff

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Graphic scenes of young people smearing themselves with vomit, injuring themselves and smashing up their homes are part of a new national advertising campaign to drive home the serious consequences of binge drinking to 18 to 24 year olds.

The £4 million Home Office campaign, which includes a range of television, radio, print and online adverts, is designed to challenge prevailing attitudes and change behaviour among young adults who binge drink. It poses the question: "You wouldn’t start a night like this, so why end it that way?"

The centrepiece of the campaign is two new television adverts that intend to highlight the consequences of binge drinking by reversing the sequence of a night out gone wrong. The adverts show a man and woman getting ready at home for a night out. One shows a young man ripping out his earring, smashing a wardrobe door in his face, urinating on his shoes and pouring a takeaway meal down his shirt while getting ready to go out. Others illustrate a drunken man smashing up a kebab shop and a young woman getting into a taxi with a stranger.

The campaign is part of a wider package of measures already put in place by the government since the Alcohol Strategy was published last year to tackle harmful drinking across the board, including measures to tackle underage drinking in public, clamping down on irresponsible retailers and "short sharp shocks" for people arrested for alcohol offences.
Don Shenker, the Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “We’re very happy to support this new Home Office campaign. Young men and women form the group most likely to binge drink. Not only does this in many cases lead to involvement in accidents and violence, but regular bingeing can also be a precursor to later, harmful drinking behaviour. It’s vital that we challenge the attitude widespread among young people that socialising must always involve heavy drinking. This will take time, but this sizeable campaign is an important contribution to that process.”

The binge drinking adverts are part of a wider £10 million government public information campaign designed to raise awareness about the dangers of excessive drinking. All campaign materials have been thoroughly tested among target audiences. The Department of Health "Units" campaign was launched in May and uses iconic imagery to remind the public about the recommended alcohol consumption guidelines.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "Binge drinking is not only damaging to health, but it makes individuals vulnerable to harm.  People who are drunk are much more likely to be involved in an accident or assault, be charged with a criminal offence, contract a sexually transmitted disease or have an unplanned pregnancy.

"This campaign reinforces government action already underway to deal with excessive drinking, including tougher sanctions for licensees who sell to young people, new powers for the police to disperse disruptive drinkers and better education and information for everyone."

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