A new report on the impact of alcohol advertising on young people has found that television advertising has become less appealing to under-18s since a tightening of the law on the area two years ago.
The report, published today by Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), said that children and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 years old were exposed to 31 per cent less alcohol advertising than they were in 2002.
Drinks companies have shifted their focus away from television, reducing their ad spend on the medium by 23 per cent.
Ofcom and ASA's findings were released on the same day that a survey for school inspectors Ofsted suggested that nearly half of all 10 to 15 year olds in England have tried alcohol.
Ofcom and ASA set tough criteria for which advertisements would be included in the research.
It looked at the appeal of ads aimed at the younger end of the legitimate market, but whose appeal might extend to under-18s.
It follows a first wave of research by the organisations published in December 2005, after the tightening of the law in October of that year, which was intended to provide a benchmark. The second round aims to evaluate the effect of the changes to the law and the alcohol market over the two years.
Ofcom's director of content, Kate Stross, said: "This research shows that the revised rules on alcohol advertising have ensured that fewer young people feel that TV ads are aimed at them.
"These are issues of considerable public concern. We welcome the fact the ASA will keep the matter under review and ensure the rules remain effective and appropriate."
The ASA director general, Christopher Graham said: "The ASA welcomes this report as part of an ongoing process of implementing the new rules rigorously. It is of concern that some ads are still of strong appeal to under-18s, but the ASA stands willing and ready to play its part in tackling this issue.
"We will be taking the findings of the report on board when assessing ads against the codes to ensure that young people are protected."
David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, added: "The change in rules has already had a positive impact in that fewer young people believe alcohol adverts are aimed at them.
"Other evidence in this report will be useful to the ASA when it is making decisions on future complaints. It is in the best interests of drinks companies that the regulator is rigorous to minimise the risk of unintentional appeal to under-18s."
The findings in full
• Drinks suppliers have shifted their advertising spend away from television with a reduction of 26.2 per cent on TV compared to a 2.9 per cent fall via all media from 2005 to 2007
• Children and young adults are being exposed to fewer alcohol advertisements on television. Between 2002 and 2006, advertising impacts fell by 31 per cent for 16 to 24 year olds and 39 per cent for 10 to 15 year olds
• Young people do feel advertisements make the drink look appealing and that the adverts will encourage people to drink, with 34 per cent believing this to be the case in 2007 compared with 25 per cent in 2005
• There has been a significant decline in young people's recall of alcohol adverts, with unprompted mentions of alcohol ads remembered down from an average of 3.95 ads remembered to 3.31
• The proportion of 11 to 13 year olds who have never drunk alcohol has increased from 31 per cent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2007
• Alcopops have declined in popularity. Between 2005 and 2007, there has been an 11 per cent drop across all ages of those who claim to have drunk alcopops in the last six months
• There has been an increase in the amount of cider that young people report drinking. This is particularly the case among 14 to 17 and 18 to 21 year olds - three in ten young people from both these groups have drunk cider in the last six months (compared to 14% and 11% respectively in 2005). The proportion of television spend represented by the cider market increased from 1.8 per cent in 2002 to 15.5 per cent in 2006.