The Australian Medical Association and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth have asked the Federal Government of Australia to ban the advertising of alcohol and other harmful products on websites that attract children. They say that current regulations are focused on TV and event sponsorship, while online marketing is left out in the cold.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth (MCAAY) refer to a new report by The Alcohol Advertising Review Board which shows online alcohol ads are the most complained about medium. While there are 30% more complaints about online alcohol marketing, than for TV there are no regulations on internet advertising.

Alcohol ads were found on a number of sites frequently visited by children, including Facebook, sport websites, YouTube videos and iPhone apps.

Australian Medical Association state president Richard Choong said sport websites that attracted young viewers, such as ESPN Footytips, had ads for alcohol brands such as Victoria Bitter. The AMA calls on the Federal Government to force Australian websites that attract children to stop displaying alcohol ads.

“Footy-tipping sites have a high usage by kids because sport is a huge part of Australian culture and kids are very interested in seeing how their team and others are going,” Dr Choong said. He went on to say: “We know that alcohol advertising increases consumption because companies spend so much on it. There’s no doubt children access online (media) a lot more than television and they can access it any time.”

Public health expert Mike Daube, director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, wrote to Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Mental Health Minister Mark Butler urging them to take action. So far, both ministers declined to comment.

Prof Daube wants legislation to control advertising online and for Australia to push for a UN framework on alcohol advertising, similar to tobacco regulation. “There has been a massive increase in alcohol promotion online, and children are being massively exposed,” he said.

Source: 07/30/13.

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