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Alcohol Policy Coalition supports protecting kids from alcohol ads

Friday 5 September, 2014

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) has welcomed the Greens' policy announcement that will put alcohol advertising restrictions on the agenda for the 2014 Victorian election.

The Greens today revealed a policy that would restrict advertising of alcohol in outdoor areas, including public transport and billboards.

APC spokesperson Brian Vandenberg strongly supported the policy.

"With alcohol advertising saturating TV, radio, outdoor public spaces, magazines and social media channels, young people are relentlessly bombarded with these ads," Mr Vandenberg said. "If politicians are committed to reducing the harm alcohol can have on young people, then they must have the courage to address the issue head on. Outdoor advertising at places such as bus stops and train stations is particularly insidious because they can't be turned off or time-restricted; yet these outdoor spaces are frequented by children on their daily commute to school.  The only way to prevent children seeing alcohol advertising in their neighbourhood is to limit these outdoor ads altogether."

Research shows that there is a positive correlation between exposure to alcohol advertising and the uptake of alcohol use in young people, and the more that adolescents are exposed to alcohol, the more likely that they are to engage in risky levels of alcohol consumption. [i]

"It's true that alcohol consumption has declined among teenagers in the past decade in Australia [ii] but in Victoria we have also seen alcohol-related assaults increase by almost 50 per cent and alcohol-related ambulance attendances triple[iii]. What this reflects is a split drinking culture, in which moderate drinkers are drinking less, while at risk and vulnerable drinkers are drinking more.

What message are young people getting when we know these alcohol-related harms are happening, and yet we allow our footpaths and public transport hubs to be covered in alcohol ads? There is a clear need to take action to reduce alcohol-related harms and the policy announced today is a great step in the right direction to alter the messages about alcohol that are reaching our kids."

The APC has called on parties to commit to reducing alcohol-related harms by addressing when, where and how we drink; and to tackle our harmful drinking culture by introducing tighter restrictions on advertising and sponsorship by the alcohol industry.

"In addition to protecting children from outdoor advertising, we also need to prohibit point-of-sale alcohol promotions, such as rewarding alcohol purchases with gifts, such as soccer balls and lip gloss to lure young people to drink," Mr Vandenberg said.

"We applaud the Greens for putting alcohol policy on their election agenda and hope that we can expect similar announcements from the other major political parties in the lead up to November."

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[i] Wyllie A, et al. Responses to televised alcohol advertisements associated with drinking behaviour of 10-17‐year‐olds. Addiction 93 (3): 361‐371. 1998 2 Anderson, P, et al. Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol Alcsm 44:229‐43. 2009

[ii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013 key findings, July 2014, Canberra: AIHW.

[iii] Victorian Auditor-General's Report, Effectiveness of Justice Strategies in Preventing and Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm (2012) p 12, 46. Available at: