Aurélien Rousseau, Minister of Health, launched his "new campaign against the trivialization of alcohol consumption among young people" on Monday. "Keep an eye on your friends in the evening, it's the basis", "do not insist if your friends do not want to consume, it's the base", "accompany your friends if they have drunk too much, this is the basis", proclaim three of the eight billboards. Conducted in partnership with the media Konbini, and Public Health France, the national public health agency, it focuses on "a peer-to-peer discourse," she says. Clearly, the health authorities want to "empower" the friends of drinkers, hoping that they will dissuade their friends from consuming alcohol with excess. "Broadcast until November 8, 2023, itaims to raise awareness among young people and limit the risks and harms associated with heavy consumption of alcohol and cannabis," the ministry said.
According to its figures, "81% of 17-year-olds have experimented with alcohol and 30% with cannabis", with a specificity: behaviors of significant punctual alcoholization or API. That is to say, rapid consumption, during an evening for example, and excessive alcohol. The authorities hope that the temporality, the start of the academic and school year, of this campaign will make the youngest aware of the risks generated by such consumption: alcohol coma, road accidents, intentional or unintentional injuries, unprotected sex...
In 2019, Public Health France had conducted a campaign called "Friends also at night", based on the same principle: to empower "friends and peers" on alcohol consumption, hoping that they will help drinkers moderate their taste for drinking. Nevertheless, several Internet users note, this type of campaign rather endorses the significant alcohol consumption of young people without trying to stop it. "So if I understand your message correctly, it's: keep drinking alcohol... Is it a joke?", regrets a user on X. "As long as you make a campaign on the theme "here's how to stuff your mouth quiet", you have not thought to associate with your colleague of Sports in an advertisement "To drink alcohol without being disturbed, camouflage your gnôle in a bottle of Coke"?", ironically another.
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In addition, the slogans chosen: "this is the base" arouse the mockery of the youngest Internet users. "A campaign of boomers," quips one of them. Translate: a fifty-year-old campaign that wants to imitate "young talk", but ridicules itself by its misuse. "The pre-test of this campaign has shown a good reception from young people, both in substance and in tone. It was deemed non-moralizing, not guilt-inducing and adapted to the festive context, "defends the ministry.
Beyond the message conveyed and its way, the relevance of such a campaign, the cost of which is not known, questions. Indeed, no study demonstrates a change in behaviour after hearing such government messages. On another campaign to "fight against preconceived ideas about alcohol", the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education (INPES) assured that in the "short term, the campaign has worked particularly well to improve the knowledge of the population". But on the other hand, "concerning the modification of people's perception of different received ideas, the results are quite logically less good than those observed on questions of objective knowledge, as it is true that the modification of perceptions results from a long and complex process".