New Zealander’s have been short-changed by the Health Select Committee decision not to recommend an inquiry into the effects of alcohol marketing.
The committee’s report released yesterday, in response to a petition calling for the inquiry, falls way short of expectations and is disappointing to say the least, says key petitioner Viola Palmer.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says alcohol-related harm costs New Zealanders billions of dollars a year (between $4 – 16 billion). An inquiry into how alcohol marketing contributes to this would cost peanuts in comparison. She believes New Zealanders deserve to know more about this issue so that they can better contribute to the debate on tackling our unacceptable levels of alcohol-related harm. A full inquiry would provide the platform for this.

Evidence shows that alcohol marketing – particularly broadcast advertising and sponsorship – has a significant influence on drinking patterns and culture. This needs to be investigated comprehensively so that informed decisions can be made on strategies to reduce harm through increased controls. The concerns of petitioners particularly focussed on the effects of alcohol advertising on young people in, the context of increasing levels of harm. They also expressed the likelihood of advertising supporting, if not actually promoting, the current hazardous drinking culture.

Currently, reviews of alcohol advertising are limited to those relating to the self-regulatory system and its voluntary codes. This is a joke says Williams and it does not do justice to the wider issues nor is it responsive to emerging issues such as new methods of marketing and promotion. The latest review of this nature allowed for liquor advertisement to be screened ½ an hour earlier, flying in the face of calls to protect young people from increased exposure.

By not recommending a review the Health Select Committee has short-changed New Zealanders. They have instead made recommendations that simply do not respond to the complexities and significance of the impact of alcohol marketing on health.

However, we were heartened by the Green Party minority view, says Williams. We agree that the Health Select Committee has side-stepped an important public health issue.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Williams
Director
Alcohol Healthwatch
Ph: (09) 520 7035
Mob: 021 862 250
Action on Liquor Campaign information and briefing papers (including one on Alcohol Advertising) can be found at www.ahw.co.nz