18 Dec 2014

Call to ban alcohol ads in sport

9:01 am on 18 December 2014

The Justice Minister says the Government needs to understand the full implications of banning alcohol sponsorship of sport.

All Blacks Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick

All Blacks Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick in front of alcohol sponsorship Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The report on alcohol advertising and sponsorship was calling ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport and a ban on sponsorship and advertising around all broadcasts of sporting events.

The Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship said the link between alcohol and sport was leading young people to drink, and drink heavily.

It made 14 recommendations, including a complete ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport, and advertising or sponsorship around all broadcast sporting events.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said she had no reason to dispute the findings.

"The report has found that there is evidence of the link. I'm not a specialist in that area but the forum we asked to look at it has certainly found evidence of that link."

She said the Government needed to understand the implications of putting in place a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport, before making any decisions on the issue.

Amy Adams.

Amy Adams. Photo: RNZ

"We cannot make any decisions until we understand the implications of those decisions and the forum themselves noted they weren't in a position to assess what their recommendations would mean, what they would cost or what impact they would have on sport or cultural groups, or even what impact they would have under our legislative frameworks such as the bill of rights."

Ms Adams said if sport and cultural opportunities were not available to young people it could be very damaging.

"We have to understand what the impact of cutting that sponsorship would do before we make a decision."

The forum was established in February by former Justice Minister, Judith Collins.

Report 'makes strong statement'

The report's chair Graham Lowe said the recommendations made a strong statement.

"It was never going to be an easy thing to do.

"It's pointless going through and just nodding and accepting the status quo and thinking everything is okay because it's not okay.

"And these recommendations weren't taken easily there was a lot of good debate over them."

No evidence - advertisers

But chief executive of the Association of Advertisers Lindsay Mouat said there was no evidence that advertising and sponsorship played any part in making young people drink.

"If you look at alcohol-related harm, particularly with regard to youth, what drives that is what their peers are doing, what their family and friends are doing. The drinking culture that is surrounding them.

"Alcohol and sponsorship have very little to do with that," he said.

However, director of the National Addiction Centre Doug Sellman said there was plenty of evidence.

Professor Doug Sellman.

Professor Doug Sellman. Photo: SUPPLIED / CDHB

"There have been studies showing that children know who the alcohol sponsors are and they know that they are alcohol companies."

"It's the amount of exposure. Over and over and over again. There's a normalisation of alcohol and a glamorisation of alcohol that sets up a socialising of our young people to think that alcohol is not a potentially dangerous product," he said.

Binge drinking up in France - Mouat

For his part, Mr Mouat cited France, where there were heavy controls over alcohol sponsorship in sport, as an example of where bans did not work.

"If you look perhaps at the French situation where there are very strong controls over sponsorship and advertising, what we're seeing in France is actually dramatic increases in youth binge drinking.

"And that's actually a complete contrast to what we're seeing in New Zealand."

New funding sources

The report recognised that alcohol sponsorship had played a big part in developing New Zealand sport so it had included a recommendation that a replacement funding programme be set up.

Mr Lowe, who was co-owner of the Warriors rugby league franchise, was confident sports could cope.

"All the sporting organisations, in particular, will have to look elsewhere and some are already doing it.

"There a number of alcohol free sports clubs around the place now and they've been able to replace that alcohol funding and sponsorship in other ways."

Other recommendations included banning alcohol sponsorship of events where 10 percent or more of the audience was under the age of 18.

FULL LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE MINISTERIAL FORUM

  • Ban alcohol sponsorship of all streamed and broadcast sports
  • Ban alcohol sponsorship of sports [long-term]
  • Ban alcohol sponsorship (naming rights) at all venues
  • Ban alcohol sponsorship of cultural and music events where 10% or more of participants and audiences are younger than 18
  • Introduce a sponsorship replacement funding programme
  • Introduce a targeted programme to reduce reliance on alcohol sponsorship funding
  • Ban alcohol advertising during streamed and broadcast sporting events
  • Ban alcohol advertising where 10 percent or more of the audience is younger than 18
  • Further restrict the hours for alcohol advertising on broadcast media
  • Continue to offset remaining alcohol advertising by funding positive messaging across all media
  • Introduce additional restrictions on external advertising on licensed venues and outlets
  • Establish an independent authority to monitor and initiate complaints about alcohol advertising and sponsorship
  • Establish a mechanism to identify and act on serious or persistent breaches of advertising standards
  • Establish a multi-stakeholder committee to periodically review

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