Doctors from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) urge parents to think about the effects of alcohol advertising on children when they sit down to watch AFL and NRL Grand finals this weekend.
“Alcohol promotion is everywhere in football,” RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said. “You can’t watch a game without alcohol companies pushing their products through sponsorship, logos on jerseys, or through direct advertising on television.
“The more young people are sold this narrative of alcohol going hand-in-hand with sport, the sooner they likely to start drinking and to abuse alcohol as they get older.
“There is a need for a public conversation about the normalisation of alcohol through advertising, promotion and sponsorship in sport and the future we want for children, similar to the conversation we had about advertising and tobacco.
“The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) must show leadership on this issue. An important first step is to close an existing loophole that allows alcohol advertisements to air during weekend sports programs before 8:30pm.
“ACMA concedes that alcohol advertisements are harmful to children on every other day of the week, during every other program on television. So why do alcohol companies get a free pass during sports broadcasts?”
Emergency Department physician and the RACP’s President of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Sarah Dalton, said adolescents and young adults are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol.
“As an ED doctor, I see the impact that alcohol has on young people and families every day,” Dr Dalton said.
“Alcohol affects the development of the brain as it forms and matures throughout adolescence. Young people have a propensity to combine high-risk drinking with other high-risk activities, increasing the potential for accidental injury both to themselves and to others.
“It’s concerning but sadly not surprising that the peak age for the onset of alcohol use disorders is only 18 years of age.”
Research released by the Alcohol Advertising Review Board has found that more than a million children watched the AFL and NRL Grand finals and the first State of Origin match last year. Alcohol companies are also estimated to spend around $300 million to promote their products every year.