Illawarra sporting, academic and charity representatives have welcomed new research that shows the majority of Australians want to see alcohol advertising phased out of sport.
The Salvation Army today released national research, which highlights the need for an urgent review of alcohol advertising and promotion. The organisation commissioned the Roy Morgan survey of 1001 Australians, which found that almost three-quarters of Australians believed that alcohol and sport were too closely related.
Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed felt that, just like tobacco advertising was phased out, it was time to phase out alcohol sponsorship of sport.
And 70 per cent of people said that the amount of alcohol advertising people under 25 saw encouraged them to drink more.
University of Wollongong academic Professor Sandra Jones said the findings of the national survey mirrored that of research undertaken by the university, and other institutions.
‘‘We know from good solid evidence from longitudinal studies over a number of years that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, the earlier they start drinking, the more they drink and the more alcohol-related harm they experience,’’ Prof Jones said.
‘‘Having so much alcohol advertising during televised sport is a big contributor to young people taking up drinking and drinking at harmful levels in Australia.’’
Prof Jones, director of the Centre for Health Initiatives, said alcohol advertising was not restricted to television, with the promotion of brands, liquor outlets and clubs occurring through sports sponsorship too.
‘‘By associating alcohol with sport it is sending a clear message to young people that drinking and sport go together – that if you watch sport you drink alcohol, that if you play sport you drink alcohol, that if you’re a sports fan you drink alcohol,’’ she said.
‘‘By banning tobacco advertising in sport it sent the message that tobacco and sport do not go together. By banning alcohol advertising and promotion in sport it would send a similar message.’’
Football South Coast chairman Eddy de Gabriele also welcomed the survey.
‘‘Why is it that tobacco advertising was banned, but not alcohol – they are both drugs,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a good thing to follow sport, but if it’s tied in with alcohol advertising, then it sends the wrong message that drinking alcohol must be a good thing too.
‘‘We have got 18,000 players from five years old all the way up to our league teams, and we needed to send a consistent message to our players of all ages that we don’t promote alcohol or smoking through sponsorship of any kind.’’
Salvation Army Illawarra spokeswoman Karen Walker said the organisation had commissioned the research as part of its activities for Alcohol Awareness Week in November.
‘‘The Salvation Army is calling on the federal government to make it a high priority to review the advertising of alcohol and its impact on children and young people and put into place more effective measures to reduce the harm being caused,’’ she said.
‘‘In the Illawarra, and across the nation, the Salvation Army sees the harmful affects of alcohol on individuals and families every day through our counselling services and programs. This survey shows that many community members are concerned, too.’’