The Brewers Association has hit back at a Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) report that claims alcohol advertising in sport is putting kids at risk.
The report analysed the prevalence of alcohol advertising in the AFL and NRL from February 11-28, 2019.
In both codes, six clubs had at least one major advertising deal with an alcohol company, while a further 11 in the AFL, and nine in the NRL, had at least one minor advertising deal.
Ballarat’s AFL club Western Bulldogs is the only team in the league to have no evident sponsorship association with the alcohol industry.
“These teams are being paid to promote various harmful alcohol products to sports’ youngest fans,” FARE research and policy director Trish Hepworth said.
However, Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan told The Daily Telegraph: “Extensive research over two decades shows alcohol advertising is not a catalyst for youth attitudes to alcohol, drinking behaviour or uptake. Parents and peers are by far the principal influences.
“Meanwhile, ratings data shows kids only make up around 10 per cent of audiences watching live free-to-air sports.
“The emotive claim opposing sports advertising and sponsorship is that alcohol must be banned because it targets youth and, therefore, correlates with underage drinking, right? Wrong.
“Over the past 40 years alcohol advertising has increased in volume and expanded its reach, especially in the past 10-15 years through digital and online media.
“Yet, over the same period, every official Australian government indicator shows underage drinking in steep decline.”
Heffernan pointed to scientific evidence in countries with advertising bans that found the bans did not result in either a reduction in the number of new drinkers, a reduction in alcohol consumption overall, or a reduction in the rates of alcohol misuse.
He said the drinking habits of family and peers were a far bigger factor.
University of Wollongong research in 2014 found that the predictors of frequent alcohol consumption among Australian adolescents are the drinking behaviours of parents, siblings and friends; believing parents, siblings or friends approved of them drinking; and having a sibling or a friend who consumed alcohol.
“Rational people know the idea that someone seeing an ad or logo on a pair of shorts will be compelled to drink, is patently absurd,” he said.