Protect Children From Alcohol Advertising: National Report
25 February 2014 at 10:35 am
The Not for Profit sector has urged the Federal Government to act quickly to protect children from unrestrained alcohol advertising on television, following the release of a national report into alcohol marketing and advertising.
In its Draft Report, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) says alcohol advertising and marketing is reaching and influencing children and adolescents, and Australia’s current system for protecting them from this advertising is inadequate.
ANPHA’s report, Alcohol Advertising: The Effectiveness of Current Regulatory Codes in Addressing Community Concern, recommends removing the exemption in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice that allows for the direct advertising of alcohol products before 8:30pm as an accompaniment to the broadcast of live sporting events on weekends and public holidays.
The report also recommends improving the alcohol industry’s self-regulatory code – called the Alcohol Beverages Advertising (and Packaging) Code (ABAC), which governs the content of alcohol marketing.
The Draft Report has been thrown open to public submissions.
The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) responded to the report’s release by calling on the Government to act quickly to protect children from “dangerously high levels of alcohol advertising”.
Professor Mike Daube AO, Co-Chair of the NAAA and alcohol spokesperson for the Public Health Association of Australia, said Australian families are under siege from alcohol marketing, with children often seeing more alcohol advertising than adults.
“Alcohol has a devastating impact on individuals and the community. It’s time to protect kids from the relentless pressure to drink that comes from unrestrained alcohol advertising on TV, through sports sponsorship and in social media, at all times of the day, 365 days of the year,” Daube said.
“This new report makes it abundantly clear that the Government should act to end the loophole permitting TV alcohol promotion through sport, and end the current charade of industry self-regulation.”
ANPHA was tasked with examining the current system of regulation around alcohol marketing and advertising. Its Draft Report describes this system, which consists of self-regulatory, co-regulatory and legislative elements, and evaluates its effectiveness.
The key purpose of the Review was to assess whether the current mix of provisions is serving to adequately protect children and adolescents (14 to 17 year olds) from exposure to alcohol advertising.
“Considerable public concern exists that marketing and advertising of alcoholic beverages is influencing young Australians and contributing to patterns of harmful drinking,” ANPHA says on its website.
“Australians are now exposed to an extensive amount of alcohol advertising through a variety of traditional media, digital media, promotional activities and sponsorships. Evidence indicates that Australian adolescents are exposed to almost the same level of alcohol advertising as adults aged 18-24.”
Co-Chair of the NAAA and CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, Todd Harper, said called on the Government to close the regulatory loopholes that allow advertising of alcohol products on television during children’s viewing hours, for example, during live sport telecasts.
“Sports on TV are extremely popular with children, even more so than some cartoons. So, if we stop alcohol advertising there, we can start protecting children from the powerful marketing forces encouraging them to drink,” Harper said.
“International research shows that children who regularly see alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age, and drink at harmful levels as an adult. Much of this marketing also has the effect of reinforcing the harmful drinking culture in Australia.
“Alcohol takes a massive toll on the community, causing mental illness, violence, child abuse, and diseases such as liver cirrhosis and several types of cancer that could be prevented. The time has come for responsible regulation, established by government and backed by sanctions for serious non-compliance,” he said.
Daube added that the NAAA also urged the Government to reconsider its widely-criticised decision to defund the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), the nation’s peak alcohol and drug treatment and services organisation.
“This bizarre decision was taken without consultation and warning. There is still time to overturn the decision before ADCA closes its doors at the end of the week,” Daube said.
“Decisions such as those on alcohol advertising and the future of ADCA will show whether the Government has any serious intention of changing Australia’s drinking culture and protecting children from predatory alcohol companies”.
The Draft Report is open for public comment. Written submissions can be submitted to ANPHA by email until 5pm Friday 21 March.