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Children see ‘tsunami of alcohol ads’, says eminent professor of public health

Children see ‘tsunami of alcohol ads’, says eminent professor of public health


Researchers found children and adolescents exposed to 51m instances of alcohol advertising on AFL, cricket and NRL TV shows in Australia in one-year period


Source: The Guardian

Melissa Davey

18 September 2015


Children are being “ruthlessly subjected to a tsunami of alcohol promotion,” an eminent professor of public health, Mike Daube, said in response to Australia’s first comprehensive study examining children’s exposure to alcohol advertising during sport on television.


Researchers led by Monash University in Victoria studied alcohol advertising and audience viewing data for all AFL, cricket and NRL TV programs in Australia over a one-year period, and found the cumulative audience of 26.9m children and adolescents were exposed to 51m instances of alcohol advertising.


The study, released on Friday, found 47% of those advertisements were broadcast between 6am and 8.30pm.


Director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Professor Mike Daube, said previous surveys had shown more than-two thirds of Australians wanted alcohol sponsorship phased out of sport.


“The sports are more interested in money than health – it’s time for the politicians to act,” Daube said.


The sports are more interested in money than health.


“Children are being ruthlessly subjected to a tsunami of alcohol promotion. Nobody outside the alcohol lobby could defend the association of alcohol with sporting success.”


The study also found the three sporting codes represented 60% of all alcohol advertising in sport television, and 15% of all alcohol advertisements on Australian television.


The analysis did not include alcohol advertising placed on player uniforms or on field and stadium signage, and therefore likely underestimated actual alcohol advertising exposure, the study published in Drug and Alcohol Review found.


The findings come as the NSW premier, Mike Baird, told attendees at the Take Kare gala dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night that governments “need to do more in sport advertising”.


“I think we can do much more, and we will do much more,” Baird said.


“I find it quite an incredible position where the captain of our cricket team sits there with a big VB on the middle. We all love the captain of our cricket team, but I find that an incredible position.”


Guardian Australia has contacted the health minister, Sussan Ley, and the assistant minister, Fiona Nash, for comment.


A co-leader on the study, associate professor Kerry O’Brien, said the minister should take the findings “very seriously”.


“Whatever policy decisions the regulators and ministers make, they should be based on evidence,” O’Brien said.


“There have been calls from policymakers for exactly this type of research before they act, and now we’ve delivered it.”


Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Michael Thorn called on the government to establish an independent review of Australia’s broadcast and digital alcohol advertising guidelines.


The current self-regulatory alcohol advertising codes had failed to protect children and adolescents from exposure to alcohol messages, he said.


“A government-instigated review could cut through the complexity, identify and resolve those failings and recommend the introduction of an effective regulatory alcohol advertising regime,” Thorn said.


“Research shows that alcohol promotions are linked to an increase in the likelihood that young people will start to drink, and increases in the amount they are drinking.”