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Steering Group to review alcohol ad regulations

Media Release

29 May 2006

Steering Group to review alcohol advertising regulations announced

The Ministry of Health has announced the membership and terms of reference for the steering group charged with reviewing alcohol advertising regulations.

In January Associate Health Minister, Damien O'Connor announced a wide-ranging review of the regulations controlling the advertising of alcohol.

Ashley Bloomfield, the Ministry's Chief Advisor, Public Health says one of the New Zealand Health Strategy's 13 priority population health objectives is based around harm minimisation for alcohol and other drug use. The aim of the review is to assess whether the current regulatory framework is achieving its aim of ensuring that alcohol advertising does not conflict with the need for responsibility and moderation in alcohol consumption.

"The review will address specific issues with alcohol advertising in New Zealand, including the amount of alcohol industry sponsorship, promotions and advertisements young people are exposed to," he said.

The question of whether improvements can be made within the current voluntary self-regulatory framework or if a different regulatory approach is needed will also be addressed.

The steering group will establish stakeholder reference groups for consultation with community representatives, public health NGOs and researchers, industry stakeholders and relevant Government and non-Government agencies. It is expected to make final recommendations to the Government in late 2006.

Members of the Steering Group are:
- Dr Ashley Bloomfield (chair), Chief Advisor Public Health, Ministry of Health
- Dr Mike Macavoy, Chief Executive, Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand
- Phil Knipe, Policy Manager (Commercial, Property and Regulatory), Public Law, Ministry of Justice
- Nonnita Rees, Policy Manager, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Alison Taylor, General Manager, Ministry of Youth Development
- Ruth Richards, Principal Analyst, Strategic Social Policy Group, Ministry of Social Development
- Hilary Souter, Executive Director, Advertising Standards Authority
- Jane Wrightson, Chief Executive, Broadcasting Standards Authority
- Tim Harding, Consultant with alcohol and drug treatment, and policy expertise
- Tim Rochford, Lecturer in Maori Health, Wellington School of Medicine

Background Questions and Answers

What is the Government's alcohol policy?

The focus of the Government's alcohol policy is harm minimisation and changing New Zealand's drinking culture to one where bingeing and intoxication are seen as unacceptable. Responsible marketing is seen as one way of achieving this.

Why is alcohol advertising regulated?

Alcohol is a regulated, psychoactive drug with a high level of public acceptance of its use and misuse. In this way it is different from all other products that are advertised.

Does everybody agree that alcohol advertising should be regulated?

Both policy-makers and industry groups agree that alcohol advertising should be regulated in some way - what is not agreed is how best to achieve that regulation.

How is alcohol advertising currently regulated?

In February 1992, Cabinet approved proposals for the industry to self-regulate advertising. In 1993, an amendment to the Broadcasting Act 1989 gave the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) sole jurisdiction over the content of liquor advertisements broadcast on radio and television, including responsibility for reviewing the Code on Liquor Advertising.

The ASA, which is funded by the advertising, media and broadcasting industries, has formulated the Advertising Codes of Practice of which the Code for Advertising Liquor is one. All media, advertisers and communications agencies are committed to upholding them.

The ASA has an independent Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB), which includes industry and public representatives. Anyone who considers there has been a breach of any of the codes can complain to the board. Comments are sought from all interested parties and if a complaint is upheld, the offending advertisement must be withdrawn immediately.

The Liquor Advertising Pre-Vetting System (LAPS) ensureS that liquor advertisements comply with the Code for Advertising Liquor and other advertising codes. LAPS is a voluntary commitment by the liquor companies belonging to the Association of New Zealand Advertisers Inc (ANZA).

Haven't there been previous reviews?

When broadcast alcohol advertising was allowed in 1992, the ASA gained sole jurisdiction over the content of advertisements and was given the right to conduct its own reviews of the Code for Advertising Liquor. There have been five reviews since 1992 - the last review took place in 2003 under the Chair of the Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie Boys.

How did the review come about?

In December 2004, the Health Select Committee considered the petition of Dr Viola Palmer and 2,869 others. The petition expressed concern about alcohol advertising in New Zealand and requested action by the Government. The Government's response was to ask the Inter-Agency Committee on Drug Policy (IACD) to prepare a paper for the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy (MCDP) exploring the need for a Government-led review of the regulatory regime for alcohol advertising and to outline options for such a review.

In June 2005 it was agreed there was a need for a Government-led review of the regulatory framework for alcohol advertising.

On 22 May 2006 the Terms of Reference for the review were approved by Cabinet.

For more information go to: http://www.ndp.govt.nz/alcohol/alcohol.html


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