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Experts criticise shops pushing alcohol as gifts for women

© Philip Toscano/PA WireThe Children's Society has estimated there are 700,000 teenagers across the UK whose lives are being "damaged" by parents' alcohol abuse. (Philip Toscano/PA Wire)

Doctors and experts have hit out at shops promoting alcohol for Mother’s Day gifts.

Their call to rein in “pinking” and feminising drink comes as Scotland reports rising deaths in women caused by alcohol.

Several major supermarkets are promoting wine, gin and cocktails as ideal gifts for mums.

But Alcoholics Anonymous warns that almost half (46%) its members are now women.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Drinks companies are highly creative in using every possible opportunity to target women.

“They have been very successful at making alcohol a go-to gift, including for Mother’s Day in supermarkets and elsewhere.

“It is presented as an affordable luxury or treat for those we love, for example Prosecco or pink gin presented in attractive bottles.

“There is a bitter irony in alcohol companies using the pink-ribbon image when you consider the link between breast cancer and alcohol.”

Cancer Research UK has reported the link between alcohol and breast cancer – the most common cancer in women – with one in 10 UK cases of the disease caused by drinking.

Douglas said the soft image linking alcohol to socialising and motherhood is wrong – along with attempts to link alcohol with equality.

She said: “Women are at greater risk from health harm at lower levels for breast cancer and heart disease as well as damage to fertility, pregnancy loss and foetal alcohol syndrome.”

Edinburgh University reports damage to unborn babies from exposure to alcohol in the womb through mothers drinking is now three to four times higher than autism in the population.

Recovering alcoholic Helen Clopin, a Community Recovery Officer for Borders In Recovery, said groups she attends have increasing numbers of women.

“You can plan to avoid the drink aisle in a supermarket, but it is difficult,” she said.

“The bottles are so glitzy and attractively packaged that they attract almost everyone’s attention.

“Alcohol’s image has been softened to become an ideal present for Mother’s Day, birthdays and the like, but it is seductive and wrecks lives and families. And mothers are vital to a family’s welfare.”

Scottish psychiatrist Dr Peter Rice says the impact on women’s health is evident in the increase on alcohol-related deaths.

UK supermarkets including Waitrose, M&S, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and several online companies suggest alcohol as Mother’s Day gifts.

Asda has a “Love You Mum” tumbler sitting online with a bottle of wine, M&S promotes wine, Champagne and cocktails as presents, while Sainsbury’s has wine, gin and Champagne as Mother’s Day picks on its website.

Waitrose, which promotes wine, gin, Champagne and rum, said: “We have gift idea pages for both men and women and we don’t exclusively market for either and we market all our products responsibly.”

Tesco’s top picks for Mother’s Day is headed up with wine and liqueurs followed by food. It said: “We have a wide selection of products including cards, flowers, home decoration and, of course, food and drinks, to help our customers celebrate Mother’s Day in whatever way they choose.”

The Scottish Government said: “We are determined to reduce the harm caused by alcohol while minimising any impacts on Scotland’s world-class drinks industry or tourism sector.

“We consulted on potential restrictions on alcohol marketing as it is one of the World Health Organisation’s three ‘best buys’ to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm.

“We will be holding talks with public health stakeholders and the alcohol industry to discuss potential restrictions on alcohol marketing.

Asda, M&S and Sainsbury’s were approached for a comment.