Policy makers should accept that young people sometimes go out to get drunk and will exceed guidelines on daily alcohol intake, say researchers at the University of Bath.
Their two-and-a-half year study, which will be presented at a conference on health and young people in London this Wednesday, questions government and industry tactics to combat excess drinking.
It also comes a week before ministers launch a £10m campaign to cut confusion about the number of units in alcoholic drinks.
Research team member Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell told OLN on Monday: “Young people talk about drinking in terms of fun. Focusing on harm doesn’t resonate with them.”
He blamed the alcohol industry for sending young people a “dual message”, still using promotions and marketing to encourage drinking while also telling them to cut back. The Bath team spoke to 89 young people in a series of focus groups across the west midlands and south-west of England.
Helen Conibear, editorial director of Alcohol In Moderation, agreed that scare tactics made “people switch off”.
Adverts on excess drinking should focus more on day-to-day situations. Warning young people about liver cirrhosis in the future was often less effective than “talking about things that affect their lives [now], like getting your mobile phone stolen”.