Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has raised questions over official support for “Arthur ’s Day ”, which takes place tomorrow (Thursday).
“It is extremely disappointing to see official tourism bodies, as well as politicians, actively promoting a corporate alcohol marketing event where the primary goal is to sell more alcohol, ” said CEO Fiona Ryan.
“From a public health perspective it is slightly bewildering. On Monday the National Advisory Council on Drugs (NCAD) released its report on alcohol prevalence, which found that half of the population are drinking at levels harmful to their health and that almost one third of 18 to 24-year-olds who drink, consume nine standard drinks in a typical drinking occasion. On the same day a senior Government minister was photographed promoting ‘Arthur ’s Day ’ while official tourism bodies are also heavily promoting the event, ” said Ms Ryan.
“Considering our problematic relationship with alcohol and the fact that it costs us an estimated €3.7 billion to deal with alcohol-related harm ( €1.2 billion on health, €1.19 billion on crime and an estimated half a billion Euros in lost productivity) then why are official resources being spent to promote a corporate alcohol marketing event, whose sole aim is to sell more alcohol and increase brand recognition for Diageo products?
“At the same time, despite knowing the human and financial costs and that a significant number of proposed measures, such as minimum pricing, have popular public support, we are still waiting on a national Alcohol Action Plan, which has struggled to get approval from different Government departments. We would therefore call on the Government to implement an Alcohol Action Plan to save lives, families, communities and reduce the cost to the public purse.
“Ironically, one of the recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Strategy was the phasing out of alcohol sponsorship of large public events such as music festivals. However, ‘Arthur ’s Day ’ goes one step further, it has been manufactured in a marketing department with music grafted on to make it more appealing – whereas in reality it is alcohol that is taking centre stage, ” said Ms Ryan.
“Alcohol companies sponsor sports and arts events to increase awareness of their brand, sell more alcohol and increase profits. This is not an altruistic or philanthropic exercise, whatever the rhetoric, it is a business transaction. When that business transaction goes beyond the two parties involved – seller and buyer – for example, when it goes into public advertising, then it has the effect of normalising and promoting alcohol including to under-age audiences.
“It is almost impossible for children and teenagers to avoid alcohol marketing. Even if we accept that the alcohol industry is not deliberately targeting very young people, the fact is that advertising of alcohol in public spaces will be seen by children and teenagers. In the case of sports and big music festivals, big alcohol brands are effectively given uninterrupted access to lucrative youth markets, so exposure to the brand isn ’t opportunistic like passing a billboard, it ’s targeted, ” said Ms Ryan.
For further information or comment please contact Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Conor Cullen on 01-8780610 or 087-7530576.