Weekly Poll – Alcohol Advertising

Each week Disability Equality Scotland sends out a poll question to our members on a topical issue and for the week beginning 6 March 2023, we asked our members about restricting alcohol advertising. Please note that this is a snapshot of the views of our membership and does not reflect the policy stance of Disability Equality Scotland. If you plan to reference the findings featured in this report, please contact us in advance so that we are aware of this.

Results– 72 respondents

Do you support proposals to restrict alcohol advertising and promotion in Scotland?

  • Yes- 53%
  • No- 44%
  • Don’t know- 3%


In our second question we asked for comments on the proposals to restrict alcohol advertising and promotion in Scotland. We have provided verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

Culture Shift

A narrow majority of respondents supported the proposals. There was recognition that meaningful action needs to be taken to address alcohol misuse in Scotland, with some believing that restricting advertising can help to create a shift in the culture.

“Alcohol is a socially acceptable and promoted poison. We must break the cycle of each generation growing up with alcohol consumption as the norm and we should encourage other ways for people to have fun.”

“The advertising of alcohol in all its forms is damaging and endorsing the idea that alcohol is harmless. TV programmes often revolve around pubs. If people are portrayed as stressed the answer often is have a drink. There have been so many dangers attached to alcohol consumption but not noted as such enough. The number of deaths, child and partner abuse, mental health issues and the costs attached should be advertised.”

Alcohol Dependence

Some respondents believed that restricting advertising would make little difference for people who are alcohol dependent. Comparisons were made with restrictions on tobacco advertising.

“Restricting advertising is unlikely to have any effect on someone who is a regular drinker.”

“My father was an alcoholic; my friend is an alcoholic and I know of many others. None of them were coerced to drink alcohol by an advert.”

“They banned tobacco advertising some time ago, yet people have continued to smoke and now vape which also continues to cause health problems so how much of an impact would this ban have anyway.”

“If folk want drink, they will get it. Hiding it away is like saying we are naughty adults. Almost like forbidden fruit and that you are to be shamed into asking for alcohol.”

Informed Choice

Some respondents believed that restricting alcohol advertising is an example of government policy that is overprotective and an infringement on personal choice for people who drink alcohol responsibly.

“People who sometimes drink see an advert for something and then they can make an informed decision, to buy or not to buy. They do not need to be led by the hand to make that decision. They should be adult enough to decide.”

“Covering alcohol up behind tills takes away the *choice* for those of us who use alcohol in a safe way.”

“This, like a lot of policies is like being a nanny state. People are no longer taking responsibility for themselves for anything, it’s now the government being a nanny country. I think this is totally wrong and people should be taking responsibility and deciding for themselves.”

“We should not become a “nanny state” making decisions as to whether people can see advertising or not. Think of it this way. A person does not drink. No amount of advertising is going to get them to drink.”

Alternative Solutions

Respondents discussed alternative approaches to address alcohol misuse in Scotland, including greater investment in some of the root causes of why people become addicted.

“What is needed is a policy to lift people out of poverty. Give them jobs with fair wages, provide decent housing and facilities for children to play and learn. Investment into Mental Health and Addiction Services using a bottom-up approach is needed. Ignoring the effects of alcohol and other addictions on the families especially children and unborn babies, in my opinion is detrimental to society.”

“We really need more treatment centres and more education. My friend died of liver failure from alcohol, so I have some idea sadly “

“I think that there needs to be more education done on alcohol especially among young people.”

“I believe alcohol etiquette should be taught from very young and perhaps the grand reveal of the ills of alcohol.”

Impact On Business

Some respondents questioned the impact of restricting advertising on the Scottish alcohol industry. There was also recognition that various industries, including sports clubs and venues are reliant on income generated through alcohol advertising.

“I think this ban will achieve nothing to reduce Scotland’s problem with alcohol and problem drinking – and will damage business interests- destroying our wonderful whisky and gin and craft beer industries – spoiling the enjoyment of moderate drinkers. Will also mean the final nail in the coffin for small local shops and businesses. I think the proposals are absolute madness. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on all of our health problems and the NHS instead?!”

“I feel the banning of it in Scotland only would harm a lot of sports that rely on sponsorship from the alcohol industry. We as a people are proud of our world-famous whiskeys & beers produced in Scotland so banning it from advertising and sponsorship avenues is saying we are ashamed of those products. There was no safe smoking when smoking products were banned. The alcohol industry is completely different an occasional drink is not harmful.”

“Essential for many sports and their members survival. Why should crucial businesses pay the price for the wrong doings of others. Increasing the price of alcohol hits businesses enough and can limit people’s consumption.”

“Looking at another issue, alcohol firms put a lot of money into sports promotion, without that money, sport would be all the poorer.”

“I do not drink myself, but I think that doing all the restrictions is going to kill the industry.”


There was a mixed response regarding the proposals to restrict alcohol advertising and promotion in Scotland. It was recognised that meaningful action needs to be taken to address alcohol misuse in Scotland and some believed that restricting advertising could help lead to a cultural change. It was highlighted by some respondents that people who are alcohol dependent are unlikely to be influenced by advertising. Respondents therefore suggested a number of alternatives strategies to target the root cause of alcohol abuse. Respondents who disagreed with restrictions believed it would infringe personal choice and negatively impact Scotland’s alcohol industry, as well as industries such as sport that rely heavily on income generated through alcohol advertising.