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Booze and sport don’t mix

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton has criticised the Federal Government for its refusal to contemplate a ban on alcohol advertising, particularly in sport. Dr Hambleton said big sporting organisations were very influential and should not be involved in associating drinking with a healthy lifestyle. The AMA President’s comments came after Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek ruled out suggestions of a ban on alcohol advertising similar to that imposed on tobacco.

01 Jul 2012

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton has criticised the Federal Government for its refusal to contemplate a ban on alcohol advertising, particularly in sport.

Dr Hambleton said big sporting organisations were very influential and should not be involved in associating drinking with a healthy lifestyle.
The AMA President’s comments came after Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek ruled out suggestions of a ban on alcohol advertising similar to that imposed on tobacco.

The AMA had earlier welcomed a decision by the Federal Government to set up a $25 million fund to provide an alternative source of revenue for sporting groups that reject alcohol sponsorship.

But Ms Plibersek said that although the fund would help convey the message that binge drinking was not part of being a successful athlete, the Government was not interested in “over-the-top” policing of alcohol advertising.

“I think banning alcohol sponsorship is a step too far,” she said on Sky television. “We know that a lot of sports depend on alcohol sponsorship.”

The Minister said the Government was not contemplating moves to restrict alcohol advertising similar to the ways in which it had cracked down on tobacco advertising.

“There’s a big difference between alcohol and tobacco,” Ms Plibersek said. “You can have safe consumption of alcohol. You can’t have safe consumption of tobacco.”

Dr Hambleton said he was disappointed by the Minister’s “simplistic” comments.

“It is too simplistic to say that there is a safe level of consumption of alcohol, because if you are under 18 or if you are pregnant, there’s no safe level,” he said.

Dr Hambleton applauded the establishment of the Community Sponsorship Fund – which draws on proceeds from the alcopop tax – as an important initiative to help tackle binge drinking.

So far 12 major sporting organisations, including Football Federation Australia, Netball Australia and Swimming Australia, have signed up to the program, under which they will share $25 million in Government funds in exchange for foregoing alcohol sponsorship.

But so far neither of the nation’s major football bodies, the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League, has signed up to the fund, which Dr Hambleton warned would limit its impact.

“Young people, in particular, are easy targets of alcohol promotion at sporting and cultural events that portray drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “The involvement of key national sporting organisations is vital they are high profile role models.”

AR


Published: 01 Jul 2012