Alcohol Action Ireland says the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications has ignored the evidence on the impact of alcohol marketing on young people
Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol related issues, has expressed its disappointment with the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications for failing to support the proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports.
“Comprehensive studies have shown that children and young people are not only exposed to a large amount of alcohol advertising through sports sponsorship, but that their behaviour and beliefs are influenced by these positive messages about alcohol and its use, increasing the likelihood that they will start to drink and drink more if already using alcohol. Simply put, alcohol sponsorship of sport works in terms of increasing sales and, as a result, alcohol consumption. If it didn’t, the alcohol industry simply would not be spending so much money on it,” said Professor Joe Barry of Alcohol Action Ireland.
“Pairing a healthy activity, such as sport, with an unhealthy product, such as alcohol, makes that product seem less unhealthy and more acceptable. It creates a culture where children and young people perceive alcohol consumption as a normal everyday part of their lives” said Professor Barry.
“Around 60,000 teenagers start drinking in Ireland every year and it’s these vulnerable young people who are most at risk, not just from alcohol consumption, but also from the sophisticated and powerful influence that alcohol advertising has on drinking behaviour and expectations.
“There are few things in Ireland that can evoke feelings of passion, pride and unity like sports can. For those who participate in them, particularly our children and young people, they are also healthy activities and ones from which they can learn a lot about important values, such as fairness and teamwork. Unfortunately, our sporting organisations are now also one of the primary vehicles through which the alcohol industry markets its harmful and unhealthy products to the people of Ireland.
“Before the Committee earlier this year, the sporting organisations themselves acknowledged that their close links with the alcohol industry were not ’ideal’ and in ’a perfect world’ they would not allow themselves to continue to be used to promote unhealthy products that cause so much harm, in so many ways, to the people of Ireland.
“Sadly, it seems our sporting organisations are too dependent on alcohol money to do the right thing. We need our legislators to do that for us and a failure to do so would be a failure to protect future Irish generations from the huge amount of alcohol-related harm that we currently experience,” said Professor Barry.
“The proposal does not seek an immediate ban, but that the sponsorship deals are phased out by 2020, leaving a lot of time to secure sponsorship from other sectors. It also concerns the sponsorship of sporting organisations and competitions by alcohol brands specifically, so would not impact on those sporting entities, such as local clubs, sponsored by the outlets which sell alcohol (e.g. pubs, hotels and supermarkets). Therefore we believe the Department of Health proposal to phase out alcohol sponsorship of sports is proportionate and the right thing to do.
“Ultimately this is a matter for the Department of Health and Alcohol Action Ireland continues to support Ministers Reilly and White in their efforts to address our very serious alcohol problem. In the future the contents of this report will seem very strange, in that we would allow alcohol to be so associated with sport”, said Professor Barry.
For further information or comment please contact Catherine Keane, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Alcohol Action Ireland, on 01-8780610 / Mob: 086-8390925
– Follow this link to read Alcohol Action Ireland’s submission on alcohol sponsorship of sports to the Committee
– For reports and studies showing the link between alcohol marketing (including sports sponsorship) and consumption among young people see the Alcohol & Marketing Reportssection of www.alcoholireland.ie
– See pages 21 to 24 of the Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy for the full list of recommendations in relation to alcohol marketing
– For further information on alcohol marketing in Ireland see: Have We Bottled It? Alcohol Marketing and Young People
– Follow this link for facts and figures on alcohol-related harm in Ireland