The Alcohol Health Alliance, made up of 70 medical bodies including the British Medical Association, urged Government to impose a blanket ban on alcohol ads.
But advertisers’ group IBSA hit back, claiming plans would be “wholly ineffective and contrary to a free society”.
The group, which represents more than 400 of the UK’s leading advertisers, called a ban on alcohol ads “misguided”.
Ian Twinn, ISBA’s director of public affairs, said: “While we welcome sensible discussion on the serious issue of tackling binge drink culture, slapping a ban on alcohol ads is a lazy and naive reaction that will sadly not stop alcohol abuse, nor prevent underage drinking.
“In fact, this latest clarion call threatens to undermine the considerable progress that the private and public sectors have already made with the Responsibility Deal, and ignores the fact that alcohol consumption amongst the young has actually halved since the start of the Century. Ultimately, the AHA’s proposals should play no part in a free society.”
IBSA added that advertisers, agencies and the media are united in working constructively to tackle binge drinking.
It said the UK has some of the toughest advertising rules in Europe, bolstered by the Portman Group’s self-regulation on marketing and Drinkaware’s “robust messaging”.
Twinn said: “Binge drinking is a serious issue that demands a collaborative response; we invite the AHA to work productively with the industry through the Government’s Responsibility Deal to keep up the momentum and not derail the considerable progress that we have made so far.”