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'Merry Christmas cards give wrong message about alcohol' - experts warn


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Stock photo

Stock photo

IMAGES on Christmas cards which are too “merry” give the wrong message that alcohol abuse is acceptable, medical experts have warned.

A rosy-cheeked Santa guzzling mulled wine during a break on his rounds can “influence views on drinking and reinforce this as a social norm”, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

The warning was made by public health specialists in the UK, but it was echoed by Prof Joe Barry of Trinity College in Dublin.

Prof Barry, a long time campaigner for more alcohol curbs, said boozy images are increasingly featuring on birthday, exam and job success cards.

“Do alcohol companies pay for this?” he asked. “Norms are reinforced. This means that issues such as public drunkenness are more tolerated.


“It reinforces the perception of Ireland as a drinking country.

“It would be good to have other national symbols to lessen the exposure of our citizens to alcohol marketing, branding and product placement.”

Tracey Polak, assistant director of public health, and Virginia Pearson, chief officer for communities, public health, environment and prosperity at Devon County Council, have spoken out to criticise cards depicting drinking for not setting the right example.

Henry Cole is widely credited with creating the first commercial Christmas card, depicting a scene showing people drinking, in 1843.

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In 1980, an analysis of greetings cards revealed themes that suggested getting drunk is a natural and desirable element of celebrations and that drunkenness is humorous, enjoyable and harmless.

Illustrations and texts portray alcohol as 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.

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