Alcohol advertising under the spotlight of new Parliamentary Inquiry in NSW

The NSW Legislative Council has today supported a Greens’ proposal for an inquiry into alcohol advertising in NSW. Following debate on a Christian Democratic Party Bill to restrict alcohol advertising, a Greens amendment to conduct an inquiry into the issue was supported by all parties. A 2016 report by the Chief Health Officer on Trends in Alcohol Use and Health-related Harms in NSW found [i]:

  • A quarter of all adults drink at levels that place their long-term health at risk.
  • Just under one quarter of all adults drank more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion in the past 4 weeks, which placed them at a higher immediate risk of harm.
  • Harmful drinking is highest for people aged 16-24 16-24 years and lowest for people over 65 years.
  • People living in regional and remote areas are more likely to drink alcohol at harmful levels.

Greens Alcohol Harm Spokesperson Justin Field said the issues of alcohol promotion and advertising by the big supermarket retailers, sports advertising and sponsorship and promotion targeted at children should be a focus of an inquiry. Eighty per cent of alcohol consumed in Australia is sold as packaged liquor at ‘Big Box’ retailers such as BWS,  Dan Murphys and First Choice, predominantly owned by Woolworths and Coles (Wesfarmers). Mr Field said, “Coles and Woolworths are using aggressive advertising and shop-a-docket type promotions to promote their alcohol brands. They use a high volume, low profit margin business model to sustain low prices to encourage alcohol consumption. “This inquiry will start an important conversation with the NSW community about the prevalence of alcohol advertising and its role in the harm caused by high rates of drinking. “In recent years we have come a long way in restricting the advertising of harmful products such as tobacco, it’s right that we now turn our attention to the promotion of alcohol and its associated risks. “Alcohol advertising is visible on the high street, at sporting venues, on the television, in our newspapers and online. Yet we know the ‘bargain’ prices advertised are a bad deal for communities, resulting in higher consumption levels, including heavier drinking, occasional drinking, and underage drinking [ii] . “Alcohol advertising is not the only risk factor for heavy drinking or alcohol-related harm but it is a key issue that the Government can investigate and provide solutions for the better protection of people and communities. “I thank all parties in the NSW Legislative Council for seeing value in this inquiry and the Christian Democratic Party in bringing this matter to the house through their bill,” he said. [i] [ii] Wagenaar AC, Salois MJ and Komro KA (2009) Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: a meta-analysis of 1003 estimates from 112 studies. Addiction 104: 179-190

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