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Beer groups call on watchdog to ban sick ad made by Balance North East

Beer and brewing groups have called on the advertising watchdog to ban a sick video made by the anti-alcohol group Balance North East.

The 40 second long clip, titled Tumour, was launched last month with the backing of Cancer Research UK.

But now it has been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority by Camra, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba), who claim it is both “extremely unpleasant” and “potentially very misleading.”

In the video a man is seen opening and pouring himself a lager-style beer, only for his drink to develop a cancerous growth, which he appears to consume at the end.

An accompanying voiceover informs viewers that the World Health Organisation has classed alcohol as a “type one carcinogen”  and that like “tobacco or asbestos it can cause cancer.”

“The more you drink and the more often you drink the more you increase your risk of developing cancer,” the advert says, before directing people to a website to find out how to “reduce their risk.”

Launching the ad the director of Balance, Colin Shevills, said he could appreciate that it was “quite an uncomfortable film to watch” but “hard-hitting campaigns work” and unlike tobacco very few people associate alcohol with cancer “and we need perceptions to change.”

But in a letter to the advertising watchdog, reported in the Campaign for Real Ale newspaper What’s Brewing, the Camra chief executive Mike Benner, BBPA chief Brigid Simmonds and Siba boss Julian Grocock called for the video to be looked into.

“The imagery used is extemely unpleasant and in our view could cause distress or harm to under 18’s who would be very likely to see the advertisement as it has been shown on prime time ITV television,” they said.

“This is potentially very misleading without additional information or context.”

The complaint is not the first levelled at Balance this year, with the group referred to the ASA in February for a leaflet stating that if a 50p minimum price was introduced the average increase for people drinking within the recommended limits would be “an average of 28p per week.”

On that occasion the complaint was rejected as the ASA accepted that the figure was derived from a University of Sheffield study, which found that the average change in costs for a moderate drinker at 50p per unit would be £14.45 per year – or 27.8p per week.

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