Alcohol images on greeting cards promote harmful drinking, say experts

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Greeting card

Alcohol images on birthday and Christmas cards reflect and reinforce a social attitudethat excess drinking is acceptable and associated with celebration, say public health experts.

While themes of drunkenness on greeting cards are popular and considered normal, it undermines public health messages about harmful drinking, according to an article published in the journal, The BMJ.

These cards “influence views on drinking and reinforce this as a social norm”, said Virginia Pearson and Tracey Polak from Britain’s Devon County Council.

Illustrations and texts portray alcohol as natural, enjoyable and fun, and can range from a glass of champagne with the word “cheers” to those that are more excessive and encourage binge drinking.

In addition, phrases such as “let’s get wrecked”, “all the gin” and “trollied” are printed across images of people clearly drunk, surrounded by empty bottles, drinking directly from a bottle, or in some case unconscious, said the researchers.

However, the idea that excess drinking as shown on many greeting cards as enjoyable is at variance with public health messages, according to the authors.

The manufacturers may change what they produce if consumers choose not to buy cards depicting irresponsible drinking.

But the question is whether this would lead to changes in alcohol consumption, as per the team.

Ultimately the authors believe that the responsibility for choosing cards lies with the purchaser “so perhaps it is worth reflecting the next time that you choose one whether the message is one that you condone and wish to pass on,” the experts noted.