Health April 1, 2020  AEDT

Cancer Council WA is calling on the alcohol industry to reign in its opportunistic marketing behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, following a spate of concerning advertising in the press and on social media in recent days.

Cancer Council WA’s Alcohol Program Manager, Julia Stafford, said some big players in the industry were opportunistically using the COVID-19 pandemic to present themselves as responsible corporate citizens when their real motivation was to promote their products and brands.

“A well known beer brand took out a full page advertisement in the paper recently espousing the need for social distancing,” Ms Stafford said.

“Unfortunately the brand name and logo dominated most of the page, followed by just one or two lines regarding the advice on social distancing. Health advice should come from governments and health authorities, not alcohol companies.

“Ads like these are more likely to build brand awareness and generate free PR for the alcohol brand than make any real contribution to responding to the pandemic.

“We’re seeing ads on social media from some liquor retailers promoting stockpiling of alcohol and heavy drinking while in quarantine at home. These ads couldn’t be further from responsible advertising.

“We are also seeing a proliferation of ads from liquor retailers offering home delivery services capitalising on people staying at home by heavily promoting ‘contactless’ delivery and emphasising that drinkers need never run out of their chosen alcohol products.

“From a health perspective this is unhelpful – the more alcohol you have in the house, the more likely you are to drink.

“We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for many and it is not surprising people are looking for ways to reduce stress. Keep in mind that drinking can actually make you feel more anxious as well as affect your sleep and your ability to fight disease.

“Reducing your drinking will not only help to keep you healthy and safe now, you’ll reduce your risk of cancers and other health problems later. You’ll also be helping to prevent extra burdens on already-stretched health services.”

Ms Stafford said Cancer Council WA would like to see current purchasing restrictions extended beyond the current timeframe.

“We commend the WA Government for introducing limits on takeaway alcohol to prevent alcoholrelated problems placing additional burdens on our health system and police service,” she said.

“We encourage the State Government to keep these restrictions in place at least until the pandemic is over.”

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