Calls to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport

By Anneke Smith

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ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP: Researchers are calling to ban alcohol sponsorship of sports after studies found audiences had high levels of exposure to the marketing during sport broadcasts. PHOTO/FILE
ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP: Researchers are calling to ban alcohol sponsorship of sports after studies found audiences had high levels of exposure to the marketing during sport broadcasts. PHOTO/FILE

Researchers are calling for a ban of alcohol sponsorship in sport after a study found audiences were exposed to a high frequency of alcohol marketing during sport broadcasts.

In a recent New Zealand Medical journal article, researchers analysed alcohol marketing during major sports events on New Zealand television and found large audiences were exposed to between 1.6 and 3.8 alcohol brand exposures per minute.

Otago University assistant research fellow Tim Chambers, a co-author of the research, said there is "solid" evidence connecting exposure to alcohol marketing and higher levels of consumption.

"There's been multiple systematic reviews now that show that this type of exposure to alcohol marketing, especially through sports sponsorship, has increased the levels of drinking in children as well as the hazardous levels of drinking in children."

He said studies have also found sports sponsorship is more persuasive than traditional forms of advertising as it "conflates alcohol with sport".

"That's what makes sport so appealing for the alcohol industry to sponsor because it actually takes away from what is a psychoactive drug and puts it in the terrain of a normal commodity."

Mr Chambers, referring to Black Cap cricketer Doug Bracewell's recent guilty plea to drink driving, said the alcohol sponsorship of sports impacts the athletes too.

"There was research just released this year had studies from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland and all of the studies found that the athletes that were sponsored by alcohol brands actually themselves experienced more alcohol-related harm than those athletes not sponsored by alcohol brands."

Mr Chambers said while advertising wasn't the sole cause of alcohol-related harm, it normalised the consumption of alcohol.

"Marketing is not the only reason that people drink to hazardous levels but it's about the socialisation effect and creating the normalisation of alcohol."

Mr Chambers said the simple answer was to ban alcohol sponsorship and replace it with one of the many other healthy sponsors available, such as banks.

"There's lots and lots of sponsors out there, way more than there used to be. So I think there's a lot of opportunities there for companies and for sports."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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