The West Auckland's licensing trusts (The Trusts) has lost a complaint made against them to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after an earlier decision was appealed.

It was found, on appeal, that The Trusts breached the Advertising Code of Ethics with the claim that West Auckland had the lowest incidence of alcohol-related crashes in Auckland Council urban zone areas.

The message was spread in a pamphlet advertisement which said: "It's working! According to NZTA, West Auckland has the lowest incidence of alcohol-related crashes in the Auckland Council urban zone areas."

A similar message was also circulated in stores and on The Trust's website.

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The decision about the messaging hinged on the use of the word incidence and whether or not that referred to the rate of, or number of, crashes.

The Appeal Board took the view that "incidence" equated to the "frequency" of an event and ruled that the "lowest number" and "lowest incidence" had different meanings.

The ASA appeals board found that The Trusts' claims were not supported by NZTA data and were likely to mislead the public.

In evidence, NZTA's Principal Scientist Paul Graham said while a smaller number of alcohol-related crashes occurred in West Auckland than elsewhere each year, the area maintained the highest percentage of crashes which were alcohol-related.

The complaint was laid by Nick Smale in June on behalf of the West Auckland Licensing Trusts Action Group (WALTAG).

According to the decision the Appeal Board said the use of data that was not adjusted according to the populations of the areas of Auckland being compared, did not support the benefit claimed by The Trusts, and therefore was likely to mislead consumers.

"The Appeal Board noted using data that was six years old, where more up-to-date information was available, created risk for advertisers, particularly if the age of the data is not clear in the advertisement and consumers may believe it to be current."

According to the decision, the Appeal Board ruled that in this case there had been a breach of Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

"The Appeal Board noted that during the complaints process, the Advertiser had taken self-regulatory action by removing the statements from its website and given an assurance not to repeat them in print media in the current form.

"The Appeal Board acknowledged the statements had been removed and said the complaint was settled.

"The Appeal Board therefore ruled the Appeal was Allowed and the Complaint was Settled."