30th September 2021 by Martin Williams. From The Herald.

Scots health experts have called to an end to the lucrative sports marketing of alcohol as new research found nearly all industry ads appearing in Scottish rugby matches came without a ‘drink responsibly’ warning.

There are currently no legislative restrictions on alcohol sports sponsorship in the UK and alcohol marketing is self-regulated by the alcohol industry. However, University of Stirling researchers found 961 references in a Scotland v England match and 754 in an Ireland vs. Wales match during the 2020 Six Nations tournament. This amounts to a reference to alcohol appearing every 12 and 15 seconds respectively.

Furthermore, it should be considered that Guinness is the main sponsor and the official beer of the Six Nations rugby and an official partner of Scottish Rugby along with Tennent’s Lager and Johnnie Walker whisky. In fact, The Guinness sponsorship deal was reportedly worth £6m for the 2019 tournament, increasing to around double that figure in the final year of their deal in 2024.

A UK self-regulation code states that “drinks companies must ensure there is a recognisable commitment to promoting responsible drinking”. However, the new analysis found only 3.5% of references to the alcohol sponsor were accompanied by such a message in the Ireland vs. Scotland game and only 0.4% in the Scotland vs. England game. The study found that in four match broadcasts studied in February, 2020 alcohol references were mostly observed during the match and in high-profile locations, including large static logos in the middle of the pitch and logos on the match equipment. In Scotland and Ireland almost all references contained “explicit branding”, the researchers said.

The SHAAP says that this raised “serious questions about how effective self-regulatory codes are”. They are also concerned about the fact that during a tournament like the Six Nations, which has an audience of 125 million, it is permitted for over 30 million children to see and be influenced by alcohol ads.

The Scottish Government has indicated that a consultation onf “potential alcohol advertising restrictions” to protect children and young people will take place during 2022.

Elinor Jayne, SHAAP director said: “Restricting marketing of alcohol – and a ban on sports sponsorship – would be a major step towards a fairer, healthier Scotland and I urge the Scottish Government to take this forward in plans for reforms of alcohol marketing in Scotland.

“As a society we are used to alcohol companies sponsoring sports, yet it is totally incongruous to have this intrinsically health harming product associated with a healthy activity.

In November this year in the Republic of Ireland a ban on alcohol advertising at sporting events or events aimed at children, and events involving driving or racing motor vehicles will come into force. A watershed will be introduced, banning ads on TV and radio in daytime hours – between 3am and 9pm on TV.”

Public health minister Maree Todd said: “We know that children and young people in Scotland see alcohol advertising and promotion in a variety of ways – on social media, when attending sporting events or concerts as well as on billboards, buses and at train stations.”

She continues: “We will consult on potential alcohol marketing restrictions in 2022 and put young people’s voices at the centre of our proposals. We are in the early stages of considering potential proposals.”


To read the full article, click on the following link: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19613404.experts-demand-sports-alcohol-advertising-ban-scots-rugby-concern/.

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