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Alcohol Industry Rallies to Reduce Underage Drinking

Tuesday 4 February 2020

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) has announced symbols or written age restrictions will be added to labels on alcohol drinks as a further commitment to efforts to reduce underage drinking. NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC), a member of IARD, said this was just one of five actions announced by IARD and its members to accelerate efforts to reduce underage drinking globally.

“The industry is sending a clear message that underage drinking is socially unacceptable and alcohol should not be bought or consumed by anyone under 18-years-old, the legal purchase age,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

Ministry of Health research shows a 16.2 percentage point decrease in 15- to 17-year-olds drinking alcohol over the past decade from 74.5% in 2006/07 to 58.3% in 2018/19 (see graph below), but there is more work to be done to accelerate this downward trend.

“We are seeing steady reductions in underage drinking, but it’s not enough. We all have a part to play in preventing underage drinking – the industry is stepping up to play its part and its calling on others, including other producers and instore and online retailers, to do the same. We also know that parents and peers are the biggest influence on a young person’s decision to drink, so we’re asking parents and adults not to buy or share alcohol with underage people even if they are doing it with good intentions,” says Bridget.

A partnership between IARD members and leading digital platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube) was announced in November 2019, which will see new standards of marketing responsibility developed and rolled out worldwide to prevent underage people from seeing or interacting with their alcohol brands online. Online safeguards and age restriction labels are set to be at least 95% in place by 2024.

The five-point action plan also commits to not marketing alcohol-free extensions of alcohol brands to underage people. The full set of actions can be found at http://bit.ly/IARDactions.

“Global efforts like labelling and safeguards around young people’s access to online alcohol marketing are a step in the right direction. But, we are also supporting local education initiatives like Smashed delivered by Life Education Trust. This theatre in schools programme helps Year 9 students to have a better understanding of the negative effects of alcohol and equips them to deal with real-life situations where there may be peer pressure to drink alcohol. Together, through education and by taking practical steps to reduce underage drinking, we can make a difference in our communities and our young people’s lives,” says Bridget.

Cheers NZ (cheers.org.nz), funded by the industry, also delivers social marketing initiatives to shift parents’ attitudes towards underage drinking and to support them in being better role models.


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