New calls for blanket bans on alcohol advertising and marketing in a bid to curb underage drinking are not based on fact and ignore government statistics that show underage drinking is in steady decline.
“Anti-alcohol activists have been trying for years to blame alcohol advertising as the cause of underage drinking, but the inconvenient truth for them is this claim is simply not supported by official data,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.
“The suggestion current controls in place are ineffective and that further regulation is needed in Australia to curb underage drinking are wrong. Current regulations to protect children are highly effective, and there is compelling data to support this.
“Underage drinking is in steady decline across the country and has been for some time. The fact that this decline has occurred during a period of increased alcohol advertising is a clear indication that regulations in place work, and work well.”
The latest government figures – significant scientific data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – show that fewer people aged 12–17 years old are drinking alcohol and the proportion in this age group abstaining from alcohol has risen significantly, the age at which younger people have their first drink has also steadily risen and binge drinking has also been steadily declining, Mr Taylor said.
“In Australia, alcohol advertising and marketing is vigorously and successfully regulated by a strict, independent system in the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code. Further robust regulations exist in federal competition and consumer legislation and state fair trading legislation, the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics and the Outdoor Media Association Code of Ethics.
“State and territories’ liquor licensing authorities also have the capacity to ban alcohol products if they breach a range of conditions, including inappropriate marketing or appeal to children.
“Through initiatives such as DrinkWise, the industry is targeting the established causes of underage drinking – parental behaviour and peer group influence – through advertising campaigns telling parents how they drink is influencing their children’s attitudes to drinking.
“Without question, continuing downward trends in underage drinking is an important national responsibility, requiring a combination of education and strict enforcement on underage sales, and the alcohol industry is committed to ensuring this continues to occur.”
Alcohol Beverages Australia is the peak industry body created to highlight the positive social, cultural and economic contribution of alcohol beverages in Australia, and promote, explain and defend the legitimate rights of the industry and the 15 million Australians who drink responsibly.
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