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Report on the extent, nature, and consequences of children and young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship

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report
posted on 08.06.2020 by Kerry O'Brien, Brian Vandenberg
This report examines the available evidence on the nature and extent of alcohol advertising and sponsorship in Australia, and the impact of exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship on children and young people’s drinking attitudes and behaviour. There are over 40 peer reviewed empirical studies (longitudinal and cross-sectional) in this area involving approximately 100,000 children, from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The studies are consistent in showing that exposure of children and young people to alcohol advertising and sponsorship is associated with earlier age of initiation of alcohol use in previously non-drinkers, and more hazardous drinking in children and young people who are already drinking.

The evidence base suggests that more frequent exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship is associated with more problematic alcohol attitudes and drinking behaviours. That is, there is dose-response. Australian studies examining the amount of children’s exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship when watching TV suggest that children are frequently exposed to alcohol advertising and sponsorship throughout their day. Children and young people watching free to air televised live sport are likely to be the most exposed to alcohol advertising and sponsorship. This is because the current advertising regulations for live sport allow alcohol advertising and sponsorship messages at any time of the day, regardless of the number of children watching.

There is also evidence suggesting that the content of alcohol advertising and sponsorship messages has an effect on children and young people’s engagement and liking of alcohol. There is, however, limited evidence on the impact of online alcohol marketing on young people’s alcohol-related attitudes and drinking behaviour.

International research involving multiple countries shows that jurisdictions that have implemented stricter alcohol advertising and sponsorship regulations have lower rates of
hazardous drinking. There are several recent studies in Australia showing widespread public support for stricter regulations or bans on alcohol advertising and sponsorship, particularly in sport. Furthermore, government initiated review panels in several countries (e.g. New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland) have recommended stricter regulation or banning of alcohol advertising and sponsorship, particularly in sport.

The evidence base suggests that there are several effective means and opportunities for protecting children and young people from exposure to alcohol advertising, four of
which stand out as areas for action.

1. Stronger restrictions/bans on alcohol advertising and sponsorship on television at times when children are known to be watching, and particularly in live sport where alcohol advertising and sponsorship is allowed at any time of the day;
2. Remove alcohol sponsorship from sport;
3. Strengthen regulation of the content of alcohol advertising; and,
4. Develop responsive regulation to online and digital alcohol advertising.
    Implementation of this four-point plan will position Australia as one of the world leaders in evidence-based public health approaches to protecting children and young people from the harmful effects of alcohol advertising.

    Funding

    Australian Government, Department of Health

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