The NSW parliament (Australia) is considering new restrictions on alcohol advertising, including in sport.
Friday 1 December 2017, link from the Guardian
Alcohol Industry Australia: Ads don’t make young people drink more; there is an ‘association’ between drinking and advertising but it isn’t causal.
Experts: Australia failing to stop alcohol ads reaching children.
The alcohol lobby has said there is no evidence its advertising causes young Australians to drink more, as it fights attempts to implement wide-ranging marketing restrictions in New South Wales.
The executive director of Alcohol Beverages Australia, Fergus Taylor, told an inquiry on Friday research had found only an “association” between consumption and advertising.
The NSW parliament is considering whether to implement tough restrictions on alcohol advertising, including in sport. The proposal has provoked opposition from sporting bodies, including the major football codes, Netball Australia, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia.
The restrictions are strongly supported by health and community groups, including the College for Emergency Medicine, the Australian Medical Association, the Cancer Council and the NSW and ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance.
It is also backed up by a recommendation from the World Health Organisation, which urges governments to enact and enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on exposure to alcohol advertising.
“Numerous longitudinal studies have found that young people who are exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to start drinking, or if already drinking to drink more,” the WHO said in its 2014 global status report.
The alcohol lobby told the inquiry on Friday that underage alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm had decreased significantly in recent decades, despite an increase in advertising.
Taylor told the inquiry there was no proven causal relationship between advertising and consumption.
“The point that I make is that these relationships, and links, and associations that you will hear about do not represent a causal relationship,” Taylor said. “Once you appreciate that the advertising that you are seeking to ban is not causing the problem that you are trying to solve, it becomes a moot point.”
Regulation of alcohol advertising is largely a federal matter. But states can enforce restrictions on liquor promotions at pubs, bars and bottle shops. The state government can also ban alcohol advertising on NSW government property, and advertising at sporting grounds.
The NSW and ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance – a collection of 49 health, community and law enforcement organisations – is one of the chief proponents of further restrictions in NSW. It says alcohol is one of the most advertised products in the world. The alliance’s submission to the inquiry cites studies showing a child sees more than 1,300 alcohol ads by the age of 12.
It also points to an Australian survey of 164 children between the ages of five and 12, which found 76% could correctly match at least one sport with its relevant sponsor.
Earlier this year, a survey commissioned by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth found 60% of Australian adults believed it was unacceptable for alcohol to be promoted in connection with sport. Only 20% thought it was acceptable.
A further 71% said it was inappropriate for sports stars popular among children to appear in alcohol advertisements.
Asked why alcohol companies would bother advertising if it had no effect on consumption, Taylor said advertising was simply designed to secure market share.
“It is a legal, safe product that these businesses market to their adult consumers.”
He argued that banning advertising would punish the entire population and the alcohol industry for the poor behaviour of a minority.