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Banning sport sponsorship is wrong


13 October 2006

Lion says banning sport sponsorship is the wrong way to stop young people binge-drinking

In a speech to the Australia & New Zealand Sports Law Association in Auckland today, Peter Kean, Managing Director of Lion Nathan said banning liquor companies from sponsoring sport in New Zealand is the wrong way to stop young people from binge-drinking.

“There is no doubt that the way New Zealanders drink, especially young people, needs to change, said Mr Kean.

“But banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship is not going to make any difference to youth binge drinking.”

Mr Kean told conference delegates that New Zealand’s self-regulatory system for liquor advertising and sponsorship already sets some of the toughest rules in the world for advertising and that research had not shown that a ban on advertising would change the way young people drink.

“While we agree that it is important to encourage responsible drinking so that our beverages are enjoyed without harm to individuals, families or communities, there is no evidence that a ban on sponsorship will reduce alcohol-related harm.”

In fact international experience in countries with advertising and sponsorship bans shows higher rates of alcohol-related harm than New Zealand,” said Mr Kean.

“We estimate the industry invests about $50 million a year in sponsorships and we believe this is one way for us to demonstrate that our brands can be a contributing force for positive cultural, social and sporting participation and excellence.”

“We are very concerned that if alcohol sponsorship is banned, the impact on our sponsorship partners and the community would be far-reaching, with no effect on changing our drinking culture.”

Mr Kean said the purpose of alcohol promotion is to build adoration for brands, not to encourage consumers to drink more.

“Shampoo advertisements do not make us wash our hair more. They build brand awareness and brand preference. It is no different with liquor advertising,” he said.

“In fact since liquor advertising was introduced in New Zealand, total alcohol consumption has fallen.”

Mr Kean said if New Zealanders followed the Alcohol Advisory Council’s guidelines for responsible drinking, alcohol-related harm would reduce but total liquor consumption would go up - a win for the community, the Government and the liquor industry.

“This proves that there is absolutely no commercial benefit to the liquor industry in promoting excessive consumption.”

Mr Kean said politicians need to think very carefully about the wider impacts on the community and the lost opportunity for sponsorships to be a positive force for changing New Zealand’s drinking culture, before making any decision to ban liquor advertising and sponsorship.

ENDS

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