One of the major objectives of opponents of alcohol advertising is reducing alcohol consumption to the appropriate level. In general, some positive results are achieved in this sphere because the overall trend demonstrates that the consumption per capita tends to decline. However, due to the population growth, the overall size of the industry continues to grow. It seems that this tendency is beneficial for all parties. On the one hand, as the consumption rate per capita declines, health risks for any given individual also decrease. On the other hand, the growing market allows companies to obtain higher revenues and profits. Therefore, they should pay necessary incentives to introduce new technologies and develop solutions for satisfying consumer needs in the optimal way. In order to ensure a further decline in alcohol consumption, NGOs should play a more active role in this process. They should demonstrate the negative aspects of alcohol abuse as well as promote other alternatives to alcohol. If their strategies are efficient, consumers will be responsive to their position, and alcohol consumption will decline. At the same time, alcohol producers should be allowed promoting their position through ensuring the highest standards of their products and developing the image of their brands. In this way, the structure of alcohol consumption may be optimized.
The question of alcohol consumption should not be examined in isolation from citizens’ basic liberties and rights. In particular, all their constitutional rights should be strictly respected. Even preserving the public good cannot justify any rights violation, as it will lead to the tyranny of the federal government. These risks were outlined even by the Founding Fathers. Therefore, the freedom of speech should be protected. Alcohol producers should be free to initiate advertising campaigns for promoting their products and encouraging sales. If NGOs and other individuals disagree with their interpretation of facts on the long-term effects of alcohol, they can express their views. The freedom of speech should be applied equally and without any discrimination to all parties involved. Only on the basis of debates among various parties, the proper solution can be found. Young people will be also aware of opposite positions and will be able to understand the situation. In general, preserving the constitutional rights should be the main responsibility of the government. It should not be concerned with individual choices (whether they prefer consuming higher or lesser volumes of alcohol) as far as they do not violate other people’s rights. The government should control that legal norms are applied equally to all individuals and organizations. Under such conditions, the problems of alcohol consumption may be optimally resolved according to the existing consumer preferences and available technologies.
Competition in the Industry
It is generally recognized that maximum rates of industry’s development can be achieved only if the competitive environment is established. It does not necessarily mean that the number of companies should be indefinitely large (as the framework of perfect competition suggests) because it is both unrealistic and irrational under some technological restraints. In the alcohol industry, the level of competition is comparatively large because companies try to increase their market shares using the methods of both price and non-price competition. It seems that the latter even dominates in the industry because firms stress their comparative advantage in relation to their image, reputation, and positive emotions that can be experienced by their consumers. In order to maintain the existing level of competition and even promote it further, the government should implement necessary measures. First, uniform rules should be developed and made obligatory for all market participants. Second, the government should not intervene in the technological or advertising process. Third, it should control some broad companies’ strategies in order to prevent acquiring any artificial competitive advantages. As a result, free-market forces will promote competition and long-term industry’s development.
Reliability of Advertising Information
Although producers should be free to select their advertising strategies and outline the benefits of their products and corresponding emotional experiences and feelings, some additional considerations should be taken into account. In particular, any information used in advertising should not contradict objective facts and deceit consumers. For example, producers should be free to state that their products are of the highest quality and are much better than those of their competitors. As these appraisals are subjective, they should not be controlled by the government or other institutions. Everyone should be free to express his/her opinion. However, if advertisers claim that their alcohol products do not affect people’s driving abilities or alertness, it is an example of conscious misrepresentation of facts. Some inexperienced consumers may be responsive to such “tricks” and consume alcohol without comprehending its real consequences. As a result, it may create threats to their health and that of other people. Therefore, it seems that advertisers should be responsible for their claims and statements. In case if such evident misrepresentations are proven, they can be seriously fined.
It seems that NGOs can also create some additional pressure on irresponsible advertisers. They should be morally blamed, and their reputation may be tarnished. As a result, they will have to become more responsible and verify any information used in promoting their alcohol products. The most important thing is establishing a necessary level of responsibility among producers and the reliability of their advertising products. In this way, the needs of consumers may be satisfied adequately.
Innovations in the Industry
All industries require constant innovations. The latter are necessary for strengthening companies’ comparative positions and affecting competition between industries. Innovations in the alcohol industry may be represented within two sub-spheres. The first one refers to the quality of products. As the ones may be manufactured differently, producers have almost unlimited opportunities for their development. They can be adjusted to the needs of consumers, or other ingredients such as caffeine can be added. The second sub-group refers to innovations associated with new emotional experiences. Advertisers often rely on this strategy, as it does not require substantial investments. They may claim that their product makes consumers happy, confident, and successful. If they can persuade consumers of the correctness of this interpretation, their sales may considerably increase even without any substantial product innovations. NGOs and independent experts should inform consumers that it is necessary to concentrate on real innovations and verify critically those implicit messages delivered by producers. In this way, consumers may become more critical, and producers will have to adopt further innovations. The process of quality improvement may be facilitated as a result.
The Nation’s Health
The problems of alcohol consumption and the influence of various parties on consumer choices are closely associated with the state of the nation’s health in general. The majority of people do not oppose alcohol use on the basis of their subjective preferences, but considering its objective effects on the human health. In particular, the life expectancy and the overall health standards may decline. The impact of alcohol on the health should be determined by independent agencies and experts. They should provide consumers with objective information on this issue. Moreover, it is evident that the impact of alcohol on the human health depends on the level of its consumption. The need for moderation is explicitly recognized by the majority of producers. Further research is required regarding the specification of the optimal amount of alcohol that can be consumed without significant negative effects. It seems that this amount may vary among individuals, and it is reasonable to determine the relevant criteria. At the same time, recommendations should be purely voluntary, and consumers should be free to follow or neglect them. If they are legally enforced, it will be a direct violation of people’s rights. Therefore, the balance between the latter and the awareness of potential risks should be maintained.
One of the major issues neglected by the advocates of alcohol prohibition is the consumers’ ability to evaluate the situation independently and make reasonable decisions. Moreover, different people have varying tastes and preferences. Therefore, differences in their decisions and choices do not necessarily mean that some parties are irrational or irresponsible. It may mean that they have different value scales, and it leads to various consumer decisions. The optimal system of the government and social regulation in this sphere should encourage consumers’ responsibility. They should be able to evaluate information and make corresponding decisions that do not contradict their long-term interests. However, consumers’ responsibility cannot be encouraged through compulsion and prohibitions. Any attempts to prohibit the distribution of alcohol will only shift consumers to the “black market”. Thus, decisions to adopt different consumer habits and become more responsible should be voluntary. If consumers realize that there is the need for additional requirements to alcohol products and producer behavior, positive changes can be sustainable. It seems that maximizing consumer responsibility should be one of the major strategic goals of the alcohol policy in the country.
The Role of NGOs
It should be stressed that the government should not be the major institution affecting the alcohol market. It should mostly control that “rules of the game” are applied uniformly to all market participants. The role of NGOs should increase as they propose voluntary and non-coercive solutions to many problems associated with alcohol consumption. They can fulfill the following functions. First, they should examine the objectivity of advertising information. If any substantial inconsistencies are determined, the public should become aware of this fact. Consumers will be able to adjust their choices if this information is relevant for them. Second, they may examine corporate responsibilities of the key alcohol producers. Those companies that become more responsible should be positively assessed and vice versa. This assessment should be purely objective, and companies should not influence the assessment of their operations. Third, NGOs may organize independent research devoted to examining long-term effects of alcohol on the human health. On this basis, corresponding recommendations may be formulated. It may be expected that many consumers will become more aware of potential negative consequences of alcohol abuse. Even if they do not change their alcohol consumption habits, they will be aware of the existing risks. People should be informed of both short- and long-term effects of their actions. However, the ultimate choice should be purely theirs.