Alcohol forum recommendations: a step in the right direction

Press Release – Alcohol Action NZ

The Forum has stated clearly that that it accepts alcohol marketing plays a role in heavy alcohol consumption and subsequent harm, and that young people need to be protected from it by regulation.Ministerial alcohol forum recommendations: a big step in the right direction
The report of the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship was released yesterday.

The Forum has stated clearly that that it accepts alcohol marketing plays a role in heavy alcohol consumption and subsequent harm, and that young people need to be protected from it by regulation.

The Forum “believes that the risk and cost of alcohol-related harm is too great not to act” and has made a series of recommendations saying “We believe that to have the greatest chance of reducing alcohol-related harm the full range of recommendations need to be implemented”.

Alcohol Action New Zealand agree with these conclusions, and support the majority of the recommendations of the Forum, including banning of sponsorship and advertising in relation to sport.

However, they point out there are important weaknesses that will need to be addressed further down the line. Professor Doug Sellman, a medical spokesperson for AANZ, points out that “Continuing co-regulation of advertising is a one of the main weaknesses in the Forum’s recommendations, and the Forum itself concedes that it is not the perfect arrangement”.

“The Law Commission examined the issue of self-regulation in depth and came to the conclusion that self-regulation is not an effective strategy. Therefore the industry should be excluded from regulatory processes” he added.

The second area of concern is allowing alcohol sponsorship of musical and cultural events, and alcohol advertising in general, where at least 90% of the audience is 18 years and over. This implies that 18 year olds are immune to the effects of alcohol industry marketing even when it is associated with their
greatest passions. It also makes assumptions about who audiences are and what time young adults go to bed, which seem deliberately naïve.

Professor Jennie Connor, another of the AANZ medical spokespeople, is concerned that the issue of marketing to youth through social media is virtually untouched in the report”, and says “it will need regulation if exposure to marketing is to be substantially reduced. Controls are starting to be implemented overseas and this can’t just be consigned to the “too-hard basket””.

Alcohol Action NZ believe that having appointed the Forum itself, the government needs to heed its advice, or it will make a mockery of its own advisory processes. It needs to not only implement the recommendations but to do so now, or it will appear more interested in placating industry interests than protecting New Zealand children.

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