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My View: TV must promote responsible drinking

Published:  18 January, 2007

Our biggest challenge in the battle against alcohol misuse is the social acceptance of excessive drinking.

There are strict controls on alcohol advertising and marketing, but too often these high standards are not adopted by others involved in the communication of alcohol messages.

A recent episode of Holby City showed two medics in a bar downing five shots of tequila each in rapid succession. It was also suggested that their drinking would lead to sex.

If a drinks producer were to encourage excessive drinking or allude to sexual success in this way, it would be a blatant breach of the alcohol advertising and marketing rules.

I accept that storylines of alcohol misuse can be used to educate viewers. But not in this case. The programme ended without any portrayal of the harm that would have been


I have never witnessed such an excessive display of rapid, harmful drinking. Perhaps I frequent the wrong venues? For many people this programme provides a supposedly realistic insight into the lives of medical staff.

Given this, the BBC is surely encouraging excessive drinking and risky behaviour. The media must stop giving the impression that being drunk is socially desirable and part of the "celebrity" lifestyle.

Until the media plays its part in promoting responsible behaviour, we have little chance of improving the nation's drinking habits.

David Poley is chief executive of The Portman Group