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Call time on alcohol advertising in sport

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To the Editor: In handing down the 2014–15 Budget, the Australian Government announced the closure of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA), effective from 30 June 2014. It now remains to be seen whether the ANPHA’s comprehensive review of alcohol advertising regulation in Australia, including its draft recommendations for greater protection of children and young people exposed to alcohol advertising, will remain.

As a starting point, the ANPHA recommended that an exemption be removed from the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice which allows direct advertising of alcohol products on free-to-air television before 8.30 pm as an accompaniment to live sport broadcasts on public holidays and weekends.1 If this recommendation were taken up by the government, it would significantly reduce young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising.

A wealth of evidence shows that frequent exposure of the young to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood of early initiation to drinking, higher consumption among those already drinking, and heavy drinking in the long term.24

Sporting events on television are extremely popular among young people in Australia, but exposure to alcohol advertising while watching these reinforces a close relationship…