End Alcohol Advertising in Sport

21-Dec-2018

Members know that ASMOF is part of the Last Drinks Coalition which consists of the four major Unions representing emergency service workers in NSW – ASMOF, the Police Association of NSW, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and the Health Services Union (NSW, QLD and ACT).

Our aim is simple - to tackle the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence head-on, by campaigning for the implementation and maintenance of effective laws that have proven to reduce assault and save lives.

Unfortunately, alcohol normalisation in Australian culture is reinforced from a very young age and of particular concern is the exposure that children have to thousands of messages from alcohol sponsors during both live and televised sporting events.

Loopholes in regulations that govern what can be shown on television, and when, mean that children of all ages are being exposed to alcohol-related promotions while watching sports broadcasts.

Just as the Australian Hotels Association and ClubsNSW have lead the campaign to unwind the measured restrictions on late night drinking in NSW the alcohol industry is fighting tooth and nail to retain the right to advertise to young children.

Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, says there are two things the industry is trying to do:

  1. prime young people to become drinkers, because this is an industry that would die out if they couldn’t recruit new drinkers, and
  2. recruit drinkers to their brand.

Studies show that the earlier children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the earlier they start drinking. If they’re already drinking, the more likely they are to drink at hazardous levels.

Associate Professor of Behavioural Science at Monash University, Kerry O’Brien, says that the pattern of drinking at hazardous levels is likely to stay with children throughout the rest of their lives. O’Brien says advertising marketers have been so successful in their job that if children are shown a picture of sport, they’re more likely to associate it with an alcohol-related word – for example, beer – than any other words.

Professor Sandra Jones, the Director of the Centre for Health and Social Research at the Australian Catholic University, says the link between alcohol and sport created by alcohol marketing needs to be broken.

“We’re normalising a drug that is addictive,” Jones says. “Children from a very young age learn that alcohol is something that is part of everyday life and something that everybody does, so we’re definitely creating that sense that this is an essential element of being an Australian, of being a sports fan.” Jones says research shows that children as young as early primary school age are familiar with alcohol brands, and particularly with sponsors of their favourite sporting teams.

Alcohol advertising and promotion in sport should be banned. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has called for government policy changes that would remove the loophole that allows alcohol advertising and promotion during live sports broadcasts as a first step, followed by the phasing out of all alcohol promotions in sport.

We know that 83% of NSW adults believe more needs to be done to prevent alcohol harm and that they believe governments have an obligation to protect their citizens against agents of harm, including alcohol.

Hannah Pierce from Curtin University recently took a look at claims by the alcohol industry that it had introduced new rules to better protect children from alcohol marketing. Hannah believes the industry’s rules are ineffective, summing up by saying, “If a burglar tells you he’s changed your locks and your home is now safer than ever, do you trust him?”

That’s why the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign exists.

This is an initiative by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, supported by health organisations across Australia, including St Vincents, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.