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Aussie athletes call for a ban on alcohol advertising in sport

Aussie athletes call for a ban on alcohol advertising in sport

Australian sporting stars including AFL great Mick Malthouse and former Parramatta rugby league player Steve Ella are demanding a ban on alcohol advertising across all codes.

Athletes joined together to launch the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign on Wednesday in Melbourne.

"The game I love is awash with alcohol sponsorship. Help me change that," Ella said.

He called for the NRL to rethink its "toxic association with alcohol" and get on with the game.

The campaign follows a new report that revealed children were exposed to more than three cases of alcohol advertising every minute of this year's NRL grand final.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education produced the study into the amount and type of alcohol advertising on free-to-air television during the 2018 AFL and NRL grand finals.

“They are big numbers,” Ella told 9NEWS.

The campaign hopes legislation will be put into place to ban alcohol advertising, much like the laws prohibiting tobacco advertising that were introduced in 1992.

However, Alcohol Beverages Australia executive director Fergus Taylor noted that underage drinking is on the decline.

"Alcohol advertising during sport is about influencing the brand choices of adults," he said, citing data showing the majority of audiences watching major sporting codes on TV are aged more than 18 years.

A spokesman for federal communications minister Mitch Fifield told The West Australian that independent media regulator Australian Communications and Media Authority had "ultimate responsibility" for overseeing the broadcasting industry codes.

"The rules relating to the scheduling of alcohol advertising are provided under a co-regulatory framework overseen by the independent media regulator, the ACMA," he said, adding the codes were regularly reviewed to ensure they met community standards.

End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign champions

This is the full list of sporting legends who are backing the campaign:

• Cheryl Bart: 31st person to achieve Explorers Grand Slam. Australian Himalayan Foundation ambassador, Sports Connect and Football Federation patron

• Rod Butterss: former AFL St Kilda Football Club president

• Richard Charlesworth: hockey, World Cup and Champions Trophy-winning coach for Kookaburras and Hockeyroos

• Steve Ella: former Parramatta Eels, State of Origin and Australian Test representative NRL football player

• Clover Maitland: Olympic Gold-winning Hockeyroo

• Mick Malthouse: AFL premiership player and coach

• John Inverarity: Australian Test cricketer 1968-72, Cricket Australia chairman of selectors (2011-14)

• Mitch Edwards: Major League Baseball, Philadelphia Phillies

• Rob Moodie: public health professor, Melbourne Storm NRL chairman (2006-2010)

• John Alexander: Australian politician and former professional tennis player

Do advertising bans curb alcohol consumption?

A recent New Zealand study found that alcohol advertising does not necessarily lead to an increase in consumption.

The study by the Foundation for Advertising Research looked at data over the past 30 years.

It found that since 1987, alcohol advertising had increased in NZ by 15%, however, actual consumption had decreased by 14% in the same time period.

New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council executive director Nick Leggett said: “That makes it very hard to see any correlation between advertising and consumption, let alone a cause.

“The study clearly shows that restrictions on advertising don’t help to reduce consumption, and in fact may have the opposite effect, as shown in the study.

“Prior to 1992, alcohol advertising on radio and television was significantly restricted – advertisements weren’t allowed to mention brand or price. Lliberalising those rules didn’t lead to increased consumption.

According to Legget, alcohol advertising informs people who already drink of new options on the market rather than enticing people who don’t drink to take it up.

He added: “Just as seeing a shampoo advertisement does not make you buy more shampoo, but rather influences your choice of shampoo when you are confronted by lots of different brands, so it is for a wine or beer advertisement.

“It’s not some nefarious conspiracy to hook non-drinkers onto alcohol, as the anti-alcohol lobby loves to try and make out. If alcohol advertising was about driving volume then it has been absolutely proven to be an abject failure, and the alcohol manufacturers would have given up long ago,” Leggett said.