An avalanche of alcohol ads is coming, and there’s little protection for children
How does it affect young people?
The report distils evidence from 30 years of research involving tens of thousands of young people showing that greater exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship leads to earlier alcohol initiation, and more harmful drinking. In short, there's a dose response.
According to report co-author Professor O’Brien, “sport is the leading single entertainment genre for marketing alcohol to children and young people, and research shows advertising and sponsorship in sport is highly effective in influencing children and young people’s attitudes toward alcohol, and their drinking”.
While the impacts on health from allowing exposure to alcohol marketing and sponsorship are quite clear, the impact of preventing exposure is equally clear. In countries with strong laws and regulations to restrict alcohol marketing, there are lower rates of harmful alcohol use.
The public health rationale for protecting children and young people from alcohol advertising is simple, but often ignored. Drinking at a young age poses short-term risks to their health (for example, injury, and accidental death), as well as serious long-term consequences (such as brain damage and developmental problems).
Tobacco advertising was banned in Australia decades ago, but alcohol advertising has continued unfettered.
Australian children’s exposure to alcohol advertising through online and digital media is rapidly increasing, but exposure remains highest through traditional media such as television, and sport sponsorship.
The pandemic has shown us the importance of clean environments when it comes to infectious disease, but what about healthy environments to prevent NCDs? The return of the NRL saw XXXX cardboard spectators (above a gambling ad no less). We need to end alcohol advertising in sport.
In a single year, Australia’s children and adolescents experience more than 50 million exposures to alcohol advertising through telecasts of the three major national sporting codes (AFL, NRL, cricket). Alcohol advertisements within these three sports represent 60 per cent of all alcohol advertising in televised sport.
How can Australia protect young people from alcohol advertising?
Australia urgently needs stronger restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship to protect children and young people. Internationally, our regulatory controls on alcohol marketing are among the weakest.
The majority of Australians (approximately 70 per cent), and particularly parents (80 per cent), support stronger restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Hence, policymakers should anticipate a substantial amount of public support if stronger restrictions were implemented.
The evidence base suggests that there are several effective ways for protecting children and young people from exposure to alcohol advertising, two of which stand out as the most obvious and practical next steps for Australia.
First, we need bans on TV alcohol advertising at times when children are known to be watching, especially during sports programs, where alcohol ads are currently permitted at any time on weekends (including Friday evenings).
Second, we need to get alcohol sponsorship out of sport. There are good examples to follow from other countries (such as France and Ireland), as well as Australia’s own success in removing tobacco sponsorship from sport.
Our Chair, @carol_fawsitt addresses @GAPCDUBLIN2020 and asks all delegates to ‘put children at the centre of all public health policies devised to counter the harm caused by alcohol.’ #gapc2020
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It’s a well-established fact that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and many other twelve-step programs based on AA, are successful. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be over 2 million AA members worldwide. Joining is free and as simple as showing up. It’s a wonderful program for recovering alcoholics, and it’s a brilliant option for those with limited resources, unable to enter into a professional treatment program or receive professional aftercare.
Alcohol-related harm, ambulance call outs and car crashes have all dramatically declined in the Northern Territory since the introduction of a minimum price on the cost of alcohol.
The Northern Territory in Australia was the first jurisdiction to implement the minimum unit price (MUP) policy in the country. MUP has been in effect since October 2018. More than a year later, preliminary evaluation results are proving MUP to be effective in reducing alcohol harm in the territory.
MUP was introduced in NT along with other alcohol policy reforms to reduce the staggering alcohol harm in the territory. Health data had found:
- 44% Territorians engaged in heavy alcohol use comparative to the 26% national average,
- Alcohol was related to high rates of injury due to interpersonal violence, road traffic crashes and family violence, and
- The cost of alcohol-related harm to the NT economy and society was estimated at $1.3 billion each year.
The Territorian government introduced the floor price legislation to cut alcohol-related crime, anti-social behaviour and harm.
The MUP policy targets cheap alcohol widely bought by heavy alcohol users and those in lower socio-economic standing. In NT, the MUP was set at $1.30 per standard unit of alcohol. One of the cheapest available alcohol before MUP was cask wine. The policy increased the price of cask wine by 86%.
The price increase has resulted in a reported drop in wholesale supply of cask wine.
The Northern Territory government conducted an independent review of their MUP policy recently and found the policy linked to decreases in alcohol harm including reductions in alcohol-related,
- assault offences,
- protective custody episodes,
- ambulance attendances,
- emergency department presentations,
- road traffic crashes, and
- number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases
Among the findings are,
- a 23% reduction in alcohol related assaults across the Territory in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18;
- a 17.3% reduction in emergency department presentations in the NT in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18.
The number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases decreased too.
We’re certainly seeing some positive outcomes for a very targeted measure,” said the researchers who conducted the review, as per ABC News.
Researchers also say even more comprehensive results will be found after the 3 year review due in 2021.
Deakin University’s Professor Peter Miller, who led the research, said although the outcomes were promising and provided a baseline, longer-term evaluations were needed.
Changes in social trends require more time to be certain,” he said according to Canberra Times.
The methods used in this report have allowed for an assessment of changes across a range of outcomes. And the staggered implementation of different policy elements in different locations allows for some teasing out of differential impacts.”
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First published: 27 February 2020
Background and aims: In February 2014, pubs and bars in Kings Cross (KX) and the central business district (CBD) of Sydney, Australia were required to stop serving alcohol by 3 a.m. and operate a ‘lockout’ from 1.30 a.m. We studied changes in the incidence of assault during the following 5 years, including possible displacement.
Measurements: We compared change in non‐domestic assault in KX and the CBD with adjacent areas, other city areas, and outer suburbs, adjusting for the trend in the rest of the state during three periods: 6 p.m.–1.29 a.m. (‘pre‐lockout’), 1.30 a.m.–2.59 a.m. (‘lockout’) and 3 a.m.–6 a.m. (‘after last‐drinks’). We constructed interrupted time‐series models with terms for secular trend and season, producing incidence rate ratios (IRR) for step and slope parameters. We performed sensitivity analyses on impacts of missing location data.
Findings: After the intervention, assaults fell 38% in KX (IRR for step change = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.49, 0.79) and 10% in the CBD (IRR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.80, 0.99). Assaults continued declining in KX (IRR for slope = 0.990, 95% CI = 0.982, 0.998) and later increased in adjacent areas (IRR for slope = 1.006, 95% CI = 1.001, 1.011) and earlier in the evenings in both KX and the adjacent areas. The net reduction was 627 assaults over 60 months post‐intervention, i.e. 10 fewer per month. Estimates were robust to extreme assumptions about missing data.
Conclusions: The 2014 alcohol supply restrictions for pubs and bars in Kings Cross (KX) and the central business district (CBD) of Sydney, Australia were followed by a substantial reduction in the incidence of assault in KX and to a lesser extent in the CBD, possibly displacing some cases to adjacent areas and earlier in the evening
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