Portman Group slams sports sponsorship study
Source: The Spirits Business
by Amy Hopkins
25th February, 2016
The Portman Group has hit out at a new study that claims to link alcohol sponsorship of sport and “risky drinking” among children and adult athletes.
The study, titled ‘Association Between Alcohol Sports Sponsorship and Consumption: A Systematic Review’, was published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
A combination of seven studies, the review presented findings from 12,760 people in “high-income countries” including the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), whose director authored the review, all studies indicated that “exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship is associated with increased levels of alcohol consumption and risky drinking amongst schoolchildren and sportspeople”.
Looking at the UK, the review found that awareness of alcohol sports sponsorship was linked to a 17% higher chance of Welsh schoolboys in Year 10 (age 14-15-years-old), and 13% of girls, getting drunk at the weekend.
The review claimed that when the same demographic of children had “both positive attitudes towards alcohol and awareness of alcohol sports sponsorship”, these chances increased to 26% for boys and 27% for girls.
Researchers also found that UK university sportspeople receiving alcohol industry sponsorship were “four times more likely” to experience hazardous drinking than non-sponsored sportspeople.
Meanwhile, schoolchildren aged 13-14-years-old from four different EU countries who viewed alcohol sports sponsorship during a “major football tournament” were 70% more likely to engage in underage drinking.
“It is of great concern to see that sport, which should be viewed as a healthy, family friendly activity, is potentially putting our children and athletes at risk due to sponsorship deals with alcohol companies,” said Katherine Brown, report author and director of the IAS.
“There is strong evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to drink at an earlier age and to drink more if they already do so. This is why the OECD and World Health Organisation have called on governments to investigate the introduction of alcohol advertising bans.”
“Major alcohol brands are prominent in almost every high profile sporting event today, exposing millions of children to advertising and building positive associations that could be damaging in the long term.”
However, Henry Ainsworth, chief executive The Portman Group, the responsibility body for drinks producers in the UK, slammed the review for failing to acknowledge the decline of underage drinking.
“As the UK’s leading temperance campaigners it is unsurprising that the IAS consistently ignore the official statistics which show significant and sustained declines in underage drinking during the last decade,” he said.
“The IAS also fails to mention the real world evidence that shows an alcohol sponsorship ban in France has had no effect on reducing underage drinking.
“Alcohol sponsorship is strictly controlled in the UK to ensure children are protected and we have made good progress in tackling underage drinking through education, enforcing strict ID schemes and by providing alternative activities for young people.
“This is about teaching responsible behaviour and supporting our young people as they progress to adulthood, not banning everything in sight.”