A PUBLIC Health Wales professor has warned that alcohol, social media and peer pressure combined is a recipe for disaster.
Referring to online trends such as the Neknominate drinking game which went viral on social media earlier this year, Professor Mark Bellis said people running the sites needed to show social responsibility.
The game has been linked with several deaths, including that of 29-year-old Stephen Brookes, from Cardiff, who died in February after drinking three-quarters of a 75cl bottle of vodka for the challenge.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Wales’ conference, Professor Bellis, director of policy, research and development for Public Health Wales, said: “It’s a huge issue as when you have alcohol, social media and peer pressure coming together, it is a recipe for disaster. It’s not surprising that we see terrible tragedies and there are a huge number of other tragedies that we do not see.
“There should be freedom around the internet but there has to be a balance. There cannot be a totally irresponsible approach by the people running these things – they cannot make money out of it and not have any social responsibility.
“We know that when somebody goes to see a certain video they are directed to places where they may like to shop, why can we not have that for public health messages when promoting alcohol consumption? The technology is there to do it but it’s about the will.”
He added: “Telling people about these things is not about the nanny state, it’s about giving people the information they need."