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Ban booze billboards to protect teens, says Cancer Council

Tuesday 30 May, 2017

Cancer Council Victoria is calling for a partial ban on outdoor alcohol advertising, as new research finds that young people exposed to alcohol advertising are more likely to consume alcohol at risky levels.

The organisation has called on the Victorian Government to ban outdoor alcohol advertising on public transport infrastructure and within walking distance of schools. 

A similar ban has already been introduced in SA and the ACT, and WA is due to follow.

Cancer Council Victoria Legal Policy Advisor Sarah Jackson said that the current system of self-regulation was failing to protect young people from the harms of alcohol.

“Children and young people are bombarded with outdoor alcohol advertisements as they go about their day-to-day activities, like travelling on public transport,” Ms Jackson said.

“Parents are unable to protect their children from this exposure and this is concerning, particularly when we know it can encourage them to drink more and drink earlier. 

“Alcohol has been proven to increase your risk of developing seven types of cancer.

“The level of risk grows as consumption increases over your lifetime, which is why it’s vital that young people are discouraged from drinking for as long as possible.” 

A strong body of evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising influences young people’s drinking behaviour. 

Recent research by Cancer Councili looked at the drinking habits of more than 4000 Victorian students aged between 12 and 17 years old and measured the associations between their exposure to alcohol advertising and their drinking.

The research found that exposure to alcohol advertising via billboards, newspapers, or magazines and the ownership of alcohol branded merchandise were both significantly associated with consuming alcohol in the past month and at risky levels.

“Over a third of all respondents recalled viewing an alcohol advertisement on a billboard, newspaper or magazine at least weekly,” Ms Jackson said.  

“Students who were exposed to alcohol advertising on these mediums were about 1.5 times more likely to consume alcohol at risky levels, when compared with those who were not exposed to the advertising.”

Ms Jackson said the research provides further evidence as to why law reform is required to better protect young people from the harms of alcohol. 

A partial ban on static (outdoor) alcohol advertisements is one of eight recommendations made by Cancer Council to the Victorian Government as part of the Review of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.

The recommendations include reviewing the liquor licence application process to prioritise harm minimisation and prohibiting alcohol promotions that encourage irresponsible consumption.

“If implemented, the reforms would contribute to reducing alcohol-related health problems, including cancer, in Victoria,” Ms Jackson said.

To read Cancer Council’s submission, or for further information about the review of Victoria’s Liquor Act visit 


i Agatha Faulkner, Denise Azar & Victoria White (2017) ‘Unintended’ audiences of alcohol advertising: exposure and drinking behaviors among Australian adolescents, Journal of Substance Use, 22:1, 108-112, DOI: 10.3109/14659891.2016.1143047
Available from:

The study used Victorian data gathered in 2011 as part of the Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey

The research looked at the drinking habits of more than 4000 Victorian students aged between 12 and 17 years old and compared the frequency and quantity of their drinking with their exposure to different types of alcohol advertising.

Students who consumed more than five standard drinks on one occasion in the week leading up to the survey were classed as ‘risky drinkers.’