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Statement on the alcohol industry’s review of its Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC)

Advertising for products that cause substantial harm should be required to follow Government-led rules that protect our children, families and broader community.

For over 20 years, the alcohol industry has largely set its own rules for advertising through the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) Scheme. The rules the industry has developed for itself are weak and littered with loopholes.¹ Community complaints are often dismissed, and even when breaches are upheld, there are no consequences.

The result is an environment where our community is inadequately protected from the harm of alcohol advertising, including children and young people who are regularly exposed to messages for harmful products.² This is highly problematic because children’s exposure to alcohol marketing increases their risk of starting drinking at a younger age and more harmful patterns of drinking later in life.³

Last year, Dan Murphy’s parked a mobile billboard near Byron Bay High School encouraging people to “go for a skate while you wait for your Dan Murphy’s order to arrive.”⁴ Even more recently, BoozeBud painted a cartoon mural advertising their alcohol delivery service on the same street as Bondi Public (primary) School, which is passed by hundreds of children daily.⁵ According to the alcohol industry’s scheme, both of these ads weren’t a problem.

Now the alcohol industry who designed this weak oversight scheme is conducting a “review” of their rules in an attempt to quell growing community concern about harmful alcohol advertising.

We, the undersigned, refuse to participate in this process of reviewing a scheme which is inherently flawed. No amount of tinkering with the ABAC, which is designed and run by alcohol lobbyists, will ever put the health and wellbeing of our community above the profits of these multinational corporations.

We need strong Government-led regulation of alcohol marketing in Australia that is independent of the alcohol industry — a comprehensive legislative framework with enforcement measures that effectively stop harmful alcohol marketing. Many community and health organisations have long recognised and advocated for such an approach.

The only role alcohol companies can and should have in the regulation of alcohol marketing is to adhere to Government-led rules developed independent of the alcohol industry to meet community standards.


Sincerely,

Ms Louise Gray
CEO, NOFASD Australia

Dr Erin Lalor
CEO, Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Ms Jane Martin
Co-Chair, National Alliance for Action on Alcohol

Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin
CEO, Public Health Association of Australia

Dr Sandro Demaio
CEO, VicHealth (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation)

Dr Gemma Crawford
President, Australian Health Promotion Association

Mr Andy Moore
CEO, Hello Sunday Morning

Ms Caterina Giorgi
CEO, Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education

Professor Simone Pettigrew
Director, Health Promotion and Behaviour Change, The George Institute for Global Health

Professor Jacqueline Bowden
Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction

Mrs Lauren Bais
Partnerships & Campaigns Manager, Parents’ Voice

Mr Michael White
Executive Officer, South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services

Associate Professor Christina Pollard
Director, Public Health Advocacy Institute

Dr Tanya Buchanan
CEO, Cancer Council Australia

Dr Devin Bowles
CEO, Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT

Professor Dan Lubman AM
Director, Monash Addiction Research Centre, Executive Clinical Director, Turning Point

Ms Jill Rundle
CEO, WA Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies

Ms Sandy Lukjanowski
Chief Executive, Injury Matters

Dr Ben Beck
President, Australasian Injury Prevention Network

Mrs Jennifer O’Mullane
CEO, Local Drug Action Groups Inc.

Professor Simon Lenton
Director, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Mr Robert Hunt
CEO, Dietitians Australia

Ms Sharon McGowan
CEO, Stroke Foundation

Mr Alan Kirkland
CEO, CHOICE

Ms Jennifer Duncan
CEO, Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council

Ms Julia Stafford
Alcohol Program Manager, Cancer Council WA

Dr Clare Skinner
President, Australasian College for Emergency Medicine

Dr Michelle I Jongenelis
Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director, Melbourne Centre for Behaviour Change

Professor Paul Dietze
Co-Program Director, Disease Elimination, Burnet Institute

Dr James Fitzpatrick PhD, FRACP, MBBD, B.Sc
CEO, Patches Australia & Adjunct Professor, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Western Australia

Professor Elizabeth Handsley FAAL
President, Australian Council on Children and the Media

Professor Nancy Baxter
Head of School, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Professor Garry Jennings
Group CEO, National Heart Foundation

Dr John Crozier
Chair, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (National Trauma Committee) & Co-Chair, National Alliance for Action on Alcohol

Professor Mark Frydenberg AM
Chair, Health Policy and Advocacy, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FAHMS FRSN
Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, Univeristy of Sydney

Dr Florentine Martino
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Deakin University, GLOBE

Dr Tina Lam
Research Fellow at the Monash Addiction Research Centre, Adjunct Research Fellow at the National Drug Research Institute

Dr Stewart McDougall
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Fetal Alcohol Advisory Support & Training Team, The University of Edinburgh

Professor Rob Moodie
Professor of Public Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Dr Belinda Reeve
Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney Law School

Professor Roger Magnusson
Professor of Health Law & Governance, Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney

Associate Professor Nicholas Carah
Director Digital Cultures and Societies Hub, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Queensland

Professor Samantha Thomas
Professor of Public Health, Deakin University

Professor Billie Bonevski
Professor and Lead of Public Health, College of Medicine & Public Health, Flinders University

Professor James Smith
Deputy Dean, Rural and Remote Health – NT, Matthew Flinders Professor (Health and Social Equity), College of Medicine & Public Health, Flinders University

Professor Sharon Friel
Director, Menzies Centre for Health Governance, Australian National University

  1. Pierce H, Stafford J, Pettigrew S, Kameron C, Keric D, Pratt IS. Regulation of alcohol marketing in Australia: A critical review of the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme’s new Placement Rules. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2019;38(1):16-24. 
  2. Aiken A, Lam T, Gilmore W, Burns L, Chikritzhs T, Lenton S, Lloyd B, Lubman D, Ogeil R, Allsop S. Youth perceptions of alcohol advertising: Are current advertising regulations working? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2018;42(3):234-9.
  3. Jernigan D, Noel J, Landon J, Thornton N, Lobstein T. Alcohol marketing and youth alcohol consumption: A systematic review of longitudinal studies published since 2008. Addiction. 2017;112:7-20.
  4. Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme Limited. ABAC Adjudication Panel Determination No 129/21 2021 Jun 21. Available from: http://www.abac.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/129-21-Determination-Dan-Murphys-21-June-2021.pdf.
  5. Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme Limited. ABAC Adjudication Panel Determination No 273/21 2021 Dec 23. Available from: http://www.abac.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/273-21-FINAL-Determination.pdf.

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