Media Release: Voluntary Code Will Not Protect Us From Harmful Alcohol Marketing.
Oversight of the marketing of alcohol, an addictive drug linked to 800 deaths per year in New Zealand, has been left in the hands of alcohol advertisers and producers by successive Governments. This approach is destined to fail our wellbeing, as seen in the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) latest revision of its voluntary Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol.
The revised code continues its narrow focus on the content and timing of alcohol marketing, amounting to little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Alcohol marketing, including alcohol branding of sports through sponsorships, is appearing any time in our physical and digital environments. Even code-compliant advertising and sponsorship normalises alcohol use and is attractive to both adults and young people.
Professor Jennie Connor, Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) spokesperson, says “Making alterations to the ASA Code is little more than a virtue-signalling exercise, given that systems of self-regulation are ineffective in reducing marketing’s contribution to alcohol-related harm”.
The evidence is clear that more exposure to alcohol marketing lowers the age at which young people first drink and increases the amount they drink. Worse, the current system fails the Crown’s responsibility to protect Maaori health. HCA spokesperson David Ratuu says “The Advertising Standards Authority has failed to address the concerns of Maaori in the review of their Standards and Code, especially around alcohol. Evidence is clear that Maaori rangatahi, tamariki and mokopuna are exposed more to harmful alcohol advertising than any other demographic and yet, Maaori were never consulted on the standards or Code. The Standards and Code are biased, one-sided and racist”.
It is irrational to expect the ASA, representing alcohol advertisers and producers, can or will effectively restrict promotion of alcohol when its members have a substantial financial reliance on harmful drinking; 46% of all alcohol in New Zealand is consumed in heavy drinking episodes.
For these reasons, a wide variety of groups joined us in boycotting the ASA code review. We now offer our full support to the new Government to develop effective restrictions on alcohol marketing in legislation, as recommended by the New Zealand Law Commission in 2010, the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014, the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction in 2019, and the World Health Organisation. An effective response to alcohol marketing is well overdue.
Health Coalition Aotearoa is an alliance of health and consumer non-governmental organisations, academics, professional associations and individuals who are experienced in public health and passionate about the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. https://www.healthcoalition.org.nz/
For more information:
Public Health Expert blog 16 December 2020: https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/