Alcohol advertising gets the red card from the field of sport

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (Friday 12th November) welcomes the operational commencement of Sections 15 and 16 of the Public Health Alcohol enacted three years ago in October 2018.

These measures will make an impact on the nature of alcohol marketing, and are further steps to reduce children’s exposure to alcohol promotion.

Section 15 will remove from a sports playing area, all alcohol advertising and promotion, and prohibits alcohol advertising at events predominantly held for children.

The recently published frequency analysis of alcohol marketing during the 2020 Six Nations Championship by University of Stirling, highlighted that a child viewing a match broadcast was likely to receive alcohol promotion every 15 seconds.

By removing these promotions from the sports playing area, as Section 15 now will, there is the potential to reduce the exposure by half.

According to the recent Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s ‘Statutory Report on the Effect of the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code’ (2021), seven of the top ten TV Programmes for Irish children, aged 4-17 years, were live sports broadcasts: GAA, Rugby and Soccer.

Equally, Section 16 prohibits alcohol sponsorship of children events and notably, all racing motoring events.

Two major pillars of the Act remain to be commenced by the Minister for Health, including significant provisions on the content of advertising and broadcast watershed, and the provision of health warnings on all alcohol product labels.

Commenting on the operational commencement, Eunan McKinney, AAI’s Head of Communications said:

While these measures may be small against the scale of alcohol marketing in Ireland, they do nevertheless mark something of a bookend to the free rein of alcohol producers’ access to all areas of Irish life. A crucial step in obtaining the public health goals of reducing alcohol use is to dampen the stimulus of demand; were all the measures, as enacted by Oireachtas, operational, we could expect to see a significant changes in our day-to-day environment that currently is awash with alcohol promotion and that does so much to attract children into early alcohol initiation. 




Editor’s Notes

Relevant legislation:

University of Stirling ‘Alcohol Marketing during the Six Nations Championship: a frequency analysis’, commissioned by Alcohol Action, and partners, is available here: