Restricting alcohol advertising and promotion: consultation

This consultation seeks views on potential restrictions to alcohol advertising and promotion in Scotland.

7. Outdoor and public spaces marketing

“From the start of the day when I’m at the bus stop, it’s there on the billboards as I get from A to B, it’s in the shops, most of them – it’s everywhere.”

Person in recovery

7.1 Outdoor marketing can reach large numbers of the population, which includes children and young people as well as those in recovery. This is not limited to those occasionally passing signs such as drivers or pedestrians but also those who live, study or work in close proximity to their location. People in Scotland, including children and young people as well as those in recovery, are exposed to outdoor advertising indiscriminately as they travel around their neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities. They do not make a conscious decision or a choice to see outdoor advertising.

7.2 Outdoor advertising includes billboards, both digital and paper, as well as posters or signs. These types of adverts can be displayed in, on or near a range of settings, including:

  • Public transport, stops and stations
  • Vehicles including buses and taxis
  • Leisure facilities (e.g. sports centres, parks, leisure centres)
  • Shopping centres and precincts
  • Licensed premises (pubs and restaurants)

7.3 This is a highly visible form of advertising. In 2019 more than six in 10 (63%) young people aged 11-19 surveyed in Scotland had seen alcohol billboard advertising. Although there are no specific studies on the percentage seen by the general population or those in recovery, this is likely to be similar to children and young people.

7.4 The current self-regulatory Codes governing outdoor alcohol marketing are largely permissive of outdoor and public spaces advertising. The rules tend to focus on places specific to children and young people like schools; ignoring the reality that children and young people travel around their communities for a variety of reasons. As they do so, they are exposed to alcohol marketing and advertising in public spaces.

7.5 Ireland has recently passed legislation to restrict the volume that children and young people see. This includes a prohibition on alcohol advertising in or on public services vehicles (rail, buses), at public transport stops or stations and Local Authority owned parks or open spaces as well as within 200 metres of a school, a creche or Local Authority playground.

7.6 Prohibited advertising includes the display of posters, billboards, hoardings, placards or other signage whether intended to be permanent or temporary. This also includes a prohibition of advertising in or on a sports area during a sporting event.

7.7 Other European countries such as Estonia and Lithuania, go even further and include recreational facilities like museums, theatres, libraries within prohibitions on alcohol marketing.

7.8 In 2019, advertisements for high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods were banned from the Transport for London network by the Mayor of London. This included on trains and at stations as well as on buses and bus shelters.

7.9 Research evaluating the impact of the ban found reductions in purchases of HFSS foods by households within the London TfL area compared to households outside of London. Weekly household purchase of energy from HFSS products was 6.7% (1,001 kcal) lower in intervention households after the introduction of the policy. This demonstrates the potential impact of restricting the marketing of products of unhealthy products within public spaces, especially when targeted towards childhood health.

7.10 Given the difficulties around defining places as places children and young people frequent, as well as the likely impact of alcohol marketing on adults too, a prohibition of alcohol advertising in public spaces may be the best course of action.

Question 8

Do you think we should prohibit alcohol marketing outdoors, including on vehicles, and in public spaces in Scotland?

Please tick one



Don’t Know

Please explain your answer in the text box.

7.11 Children and young people in Scotland have made recommendations supportive of restricting outdoor and public spaces advertising. Children’s Parliament investigators felt that billboards and adverts promoting alcohol use and drinking should not be allowed to be displayed in areas where children may see them.

Young Scot Health Panel

Recommendations 14

Prohibit alcohol marketing on billboards and posters near to schools, nurseries and playgrounds, and on public transport vehicles, stops and stations.

Children’s Parliament

Recommendations 3

Remove adverts for alcohol so that children can’t see them

7.12 Reducing this highly visible source of marketing would also benefit higher-risk drinkers, those in recovery and the general population given the links set out in earlier sections on how marketing generally drives attractiveness and influences attitudes and consumption patterns. Given that this type of advertising appears in everyday settings, it cannot be easily avoided.

Question 9

What do you think should be covered by a prohibition on alcohol marketing outdoors, on vehicles and in public spaces?

Your answer should include:

1) Places where you think alcohol marketing should be prohibited (e.g. on bus shelters, in or near leisure centres or on taxis); and

2) Types of alcohol marketing you think should be prohibited outdoors (e.g. billboards or signage).

Please provide your answer in the text box.

Question 10

What, if any, exceptions do you think there should be to prohibiting alcohol marketing outdoors, including on vehicles, and in public spaces in Scotland?

Please provide your answer in the text box.



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