A new systematic literature study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) concludes that international studies found a significant link between sports sponsorship and increased alcohol consumption, including among schoolchildren. In Ireland this news has drawn attention back to earlier cancelled plans by the government to ban alcohol sports sponsorship.
The study, authored by IAS director Kathrine Brown, was published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. In it, Brown points out that the association between alcohol sports sponsorship and alcohol use among minors “warranted close attention from public health policymakers”.
The research reviewed studies in seven countries, including five in the EU. “All studies report positive associations between exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship and self-reported alcohol consumption,” states the report.
“Two studies found indirect exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship was associated with increased levels of drinking amongst schoolchildren, and five studies found a positive association between direct alcohol sports sponsorship and hazardous drinking amongst adult sports-people.”
Among the studies included in the review is a study by EUCAMs Avalon de Bruijn from 2012. This Amphora study among 6,650 young students in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland found that “exposure to branded sports sponsorship increased the odds of drinking”.
A 2009 study among 320 students from Welsh schools found that “awareness of alcohol sponsorship predicted likelihood of boys drinking and of both boys and girls getting drunk the following weekend”.
The article notes that France and Norway already have a ban in place against alcohol branded sports sponsorship, while countries such as Ireland and New Zealand are considering this policy intervention.
Irish newspaper the Irish Examiner picked up the publication of the article and said that: ‘Given the lack of Irish research on the matter, it will be of interest to health experts and departmental officials here.’
The Examiner describes the history of the ambitious plans to ban alcohol sports sponsorship and what ended up happening. It starts with referring to a report of the government’s National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group which in February 2012 recommended that alcohol sponsorship of sports events be phased out by 2016.
This recommendation was strongly opposed by sporting organisations and the alcohol industry. Accordingly, a decision on the subject was postponed by the Government’s action plan on alcohol, which in October 2013 left the issue to a working group. This group in turn reported at the end of 2014 that evidence of the links between sponsorship and consumption was limited.
The major sporting bodies argued that they would suffer a significant loss of revenue if sports sponsorship were to be banned. In reaction to this conflicting views came up on alternative sources of sponsorship and the work group said further work was needed to identify the options for Government.
The issue of alcohol branded sports sponsorship is not covered in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, which was published in December, other than prohibiting alcohol advertising in sports grounds for events where a majority of participants are children.
Source: Irish Examiner 03/01/16
For more information on the Irish debate about sports sponsorship also see:
ALCOHOL ADS ON THE SIDE OF SPORTS FIELDS TO BE BANNED IN IRELAND? 11/08/15
VIDEO: DR. PAT KENNY DISCUSSING ALCOHOL MARKETING BEFORE THE OIREACHTAS 08/02/15
IRISH BAN ON ALCOHOL SPORTS SPONSORING TO BE DROPPED 01/25/15
TEENS PREFER ALCOHOL BRANDS THEY KNOW THROUGH SPONSORSHIP 12/16/14
EUCAM COMMENTARY IN UPCOMING ISSUE OF ADDICTION: REFUTING ARGUMENTS AGAINST A BAN ON ALCOHOL SPORT SPONSORSHIP 08/29/14
IRISH GOVERNMENT FINALIZES ALCOHOL STRATEGY: NO BAN ON SPORTS SPONSORSHIP 10/24/13
IRELAND: REVIEW COMMITTEE OPPOSES BAN ON ALCOHOL BRANDED SPORT SPONSORSHIP 07/08/13
IRISH MEDIA REPORT BAN ON ALCOHOL BRANDED SPORT SPONSORING WILL BE APPROVED 07/29/13
RESEARCH SHOWS THAT ALCOHOL MARKETING IS NOT HARMLESS 06/26/13
IRELAND: POLICY MAKERS NOT PREPARED TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AGAINST ALCOHOL 03/16/13
FEATURE OF IRISH ALCOHOL STRATEGY UNCERTAIN AS MINISTER RESIGNS 10/01/12
MINISTER DEDICATED TO BANNING ALCOHOL SPORT SPONSORING IN IRELAND 05/25/12
IRELAND TO BAN ALCOHOL SPORTS SPONSORSHIP? 02/07/12
IRISH DEBATE ABOUT ALCOHOL MARKETING FLARES UP 11/201/11