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Home > Alcohol marketing in the WHO European Region: update report on the evidence and recommended policy actions.

WHO Regional Office for Europe. (2020) Alcohol marketing in the WHO European Region: update report on the evidence and recommended policy actions. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

PDF (Alcohol marketing in the WHO European Region) - Published Version

Alcohol is a global risk factor for disease, and Europe is the heaviest-drinking region in the world. Research has shown a correlation between exposure to alcohol advertising and drinking habits – in particular, between youth exposure to alcohol marketing and initiation of alcohol use – and clear associations between exposure and subsequent binge or hazardous drinking.


This report analyses the current state of regulation concerning marketing of alcoholic beverages in Europe. It shows that, although most countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region have some form of marketing regulation, very few have statutory bans to limit the marketing of alcohol beverages. In addition, the report highlights examples of current effective European alcohol marketing restrictions aimed at protecting young people that have been adopted in some countries in the Region.


In recent years, online platforms have played an increasingly important role in alcohol advertising and marketing, and many countries have updated their legislation in order to mirror the current situation. The report gives an account of online formats used for alcohol marketing and the ways in which they pose challenges for regulation, control and monitoring. It further discusses the need to develop protocols for distinguishing native advertising, user-generated content, and other commercial messages that may be difficult to identify as commercial messages. The real senders of such material are consumers, sometimes teenagers and children.


The report concludes that the global nature of alcohol marketing, and the ease with which it transcends national borders, necessitate regional and global responses, as well as national ones, and that opportunities exist to implement comprehensive, statutory regulations restricting or banning alcohol marketing to protect children and adolescents. In addition, increased awareness of the extensive challenges posed by online marketing, and political commitment to deal with them, are needed throughout Europe.

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