Preventative Health Taskforce recommends sport ad alcohol ban: report

Posted by Isobel Drake on 20th July 2009

A proposal to ban alcohol advertising in sport has been put forward by the Federal Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce, according to newspaper reports.

The Taskforce, set up to offer a guide to the future health strategy of the nation, handed their report to the government at the end of last month – although it has yet to be publicly released. Reports from News Limited suggest that it highlights a need to rid sport of alcohol advertising in a bid to tackle binge drinking.

The issue of alcohol advertising has been on the public agenda for a number of years, with the debate intensifying recently thanks to heightened concern about binge drinking.

Sporting codes argue that such a move would cost $300 million and particularly hurt grassroots clubs, while health groups contend the link between sport and alcohol is damaging.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding put the proposal before Parliament last year as an adjunct to the alcopops tax but it was knocked back. He believes the government must now act if the Taskforce has recommended such a move.

“Up until now the Rudd Government has been hiding behind the alcopops tax. It is a blatant tax grab,” he told the ABC. “It would do very little to address binge drinking and the Government does have to put these tighter restrictions in place. They need to set a date for this to happen.”

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon also supports the ad ban and is suggesting the Government consider implementing a three-five year phase out.

AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou has reported his code’s disapproval, however, believing it to be over-the-top.

“Our broadcasters rely on advertising of all sorts including alcohol but we are involved in responsible alcohol drinking policies, educating all people in our industry and that is the best way to go about it,” he said. “Banning everything is not going to solve the world.”

The Brewers Association, which represents the leading beer makers, has also criticised the recommendation.

“You know there was a Senate inquiry into it only last year and there wasn’t any general groundswell then for this,” CEO Stephen Swift said. “I think the Australian consumers are very well aware about alcohol and its properties and its benefits when it is consumed in moderation and its risks when it is not.”

The Federal Government has not divulged their likely response to the recommendation, instead simply advising that the report will be released soon with all options to be considered.

The Coalition is expected to oppose such a move, with the Greens in favour.