Alcohol Marketing Committee Questions Government's Motives
New Independent Alcohol Marketing Committee Questions Government’s Motives
An Independent Expert Committee on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship (IECAAS) has been formed out of concern amongst alcohol and public health researchers about the government’s Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship (MFAAS).
“The new expert group is concerned that MFASS has been disingenuously set up to further delay important alcohol marketing reforms recommended by the Law Commission in 2010,” said Prof Doug Sellman of Alcohol Action NZ, which is hosting IECAAS.
Thousands of submissions to the Select Committee considering the Alcohol Reform Bill in 2011 expressed dismay that evidence-based policies likely to reduce alcohol-related harm had been omitted from the Bill. In particular, the Bill did not include any substantial measures regarding marketing. In the run up to the 2011 general election the government instead said it would set up an expert forum in early 2012 to consider further the Law Commission’s recommendations on alcohol marketing.
Three years later, in February 2014, in the run up to the next upcoming general election, the government established its long awaited “expert forum”, MFAAS, chaired by a well-known rugby league coach.
“Apart from the obvious unexplained delay, IECAAS members are concerned about two further aspects of the process,” said Prof Sellman. “Firstly, the Ministerial Forum has very little scientific expertise in the area of alcohol marketing, yet includes the CEO of the industry’s self-regulation group (the Advertising Standards Authority) despite the obvious conflict of interest. Secondly, MFAAS was not instructed to report back to the government before the general election but rather on 1 October 2014, 10 days after the vote, during the period of turmoil that routinely follows every election. “
To date IECAAS members have found no significant new research that would invalidate the recommendations made by the Law Commission in 2010. In fact the evidence supporting major reform appears to be strengthening. The recommendation to phase out alcohol advertising and sponsorship apart from objective written product information over five years is therefore as important today as it was when first reported to the government in 2010. The only difference is that New Zealand could have made several years of progress had the government responded.