The alcohol industry has slammed an Opposition election campaign proposal to ban alcohol advertising on public transport in Western Australia as poorly thought-out and not supported by credible research or data.
“This is a poor policy decision taken on the run without industry consultation and isn’t supported by official government data,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.
“Underage drinking is not caused by alcohol advertising so banning it is misguided and pointless. The weight of independent research shows that young people learn drinking behaviour from parents and peers, so preventative initiatives need to target this and not advertising.
“The alcohol industry makes an enormous contribution to the Western Australian economy and tourism sector and all this proposal would achieve would be to damage a legal and already heavily-regulated industry and cost local jobs.
“The government has made a sensible decision to reject this proposal after a more thorough assessment of the evidence.
“Underage drinking is in steady decline in WA and has been for some time. This decline has occurred during a period of increased alcohol advertising which proves that current regulations in place to protect children are highly effective.
“Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that fewer people aged 12–17 years old are drinking alcohol, the proportion in this age group abstaining has risen significantly, and binge drinking has also been steadily declining.
“Policy announcements made under pressure have a history of poor outcomes and this election campaign announcement is another example. The knee-jerk lockout laws from NSW and Queensland which are now having to be undone show what happens when policy decisions are made hastily and for the wrong reasons,” Mr Taylor said.
In WA, alcohol advertising and marketing is vigorously 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 and the Outdoor Media Association Code of Ethics, and liquor licensing authorities can also ban alcohol products if they breach a range of conditions, including inappropriate marketing or appeal to children.
“Through initiatives such as DrinkWise, the industry has been effectively tackling 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.
“Continuing the downward trends in underage drinking is vital. It requires 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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