Alcohol marketing and promotions are pervasive and far reaching; ranging from alcohol logos on sporting uniforms to retail outlet signage. Total alcohol advertising expenditure in 2007 was $128 million; however this figure is an underestimate as it does not take into consideration the amount that the alcohol industry spends on sponsorship or merchandise.
Alcohol advertising is currently regulated by the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) which is a voluntary industry led and administered code. Reviews have consistently found the ABAC to be ineffective. Alcohol advertising must also comply with the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (CTICP) which currently restricts alcohol advertising to 8.30 pm to 5.00 am and 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm on school days.
Alcohol advertising is permitted during the live broadcast of sporting events on weekends and public holidays. An Australian review of alcohol advertising found that the majority of alcohol advertising occurs on weekends and public holidays in metropolitan areas. Because of this, children and young people are exposed to undesirable levels of alcohol advertising.
In 2009, the National Preventative Health Taskforce recommended that the Government adopt a staged approach to phase out alcohol promotions from times and placements which have high exposure to young people aged up to 25 years. This included addressing advertising during live sport broadcasts; sponsorship of sport and cultural events; and consideration of whether there is a need for additional measures to address advertising and promotion across media sources. The Government has indicated it will not be considering regulatory action on alcohol advertising in the immediate future.
The current quasi-regulatory system of alcohol advertising needs to be replaced by an independent regulatory framework. This framework should also cover sponsorship and other promotions.
Greater effort also needs to be made to protect younger audiences from alcohol advertising. We advocate for the removal of the exemption in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, which allows alcohol advertising to be shown before 8:30pm on weekends and public holidays as an accompaniment to live sporting events, to minimize exposure of younger audiences to such advertising.
We also support the collection of national data on industry expenditure on alcohol marketing and sponsorship.