The Oireachtas committee on transport and communications, a committee of Irish politicians dedicated to reviewing the currently proposed action plan on alcohol, opposes any ban on alcohol sponsorship of sporting events and instead want an “addiction” fund set up and stronger regulations for marketing drink. Alcohol Action Ireland has called this decision: “a failure to protect future Irish generations from the huge amount of alcohol-related harm that we currently experience.”
The committee’s report concludes that sporting organisations would “suffer inordinately if legislation for such a prohibition was introduced”. Instead, the committee thinks that any ban on sponsorship would have to be implemented at EU level, so Irish sporting bodies are not left at a disadvantage relative to international competitors. Alternatively, the committee proposes that a percentage of sponsorship funds should be dedicated to a central fund to tackle alcohol abuse.
Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol related issues, has expressed its disappointment with the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications for failing to support the proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports.
“Comprehensive studies have shown that children and young people are not only exposed to a large amount of alcohol advertising through sports sponsorship, but that their behaviour and beliefs are influenced by these positive messages about alcohol and its use, increasing the likelihood that they will start to drink and drink more if already using alcohol. Simply put, alcohol sponsorship of sport works in terms of increasing sales and, as a result, alcohol consumption. If it didn’t, the alcohol industry simply would not be spending so much money on it.”
“Pairing a healthy activity, such as sport, with an unhealthy product, such as alcohol, makes that product seem less unhealthy and more acceptable. It creates a culture where children and young people perceive alcohol consumption as a normal everyday part of their lives,” said Professor Joe Barry who is board member of Alcohol Action Ireland and head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care Trinity College for Health Sciences.