Social media use in alcohol advertising 'needs review'

  • 22/07/2015
Social media use in alcohol advertising 'needs review'

By 3 News online staff

More should be done to restrict the use of social media to promote alcohol, an independent body has recommended.

The Independent Expert Committee on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship (IECAAS) has released a report which looks into the recommendations of a ministerial forum into the issue.

It agreed with the forum's main proposal of getting rid of alcohol advertising and sponsorship within five years, aside from objective product information such as pricing.

"This would be an excellent step in phasing out alcohol marketing, but unfortunately falls short of what is optimally required to bring about a reform of the normalised and glorified heavy drinking culture in New Zealand," IECAAS member professor Doug Sellman says.

However, the body had a number of criticism and concerns about what was left out of the forum's report including its focus "almost entirely" on young people's exposure to marketing as a problem.

It says binge drinking is much bigger than that.

"It is the contribution of alcohol marketing to the whole drinking culture of the country that needs to change," the report says.

There was also no mention of ideas to restrict alcohol marketing via social media and the "logical step" of recommending and end self-regulation in the industry wasn't made.

Massey University professor Anotonia Lyons says a 2014 study shows using social media to advertise alcohol found it could significantly predict increased drinking problems, more frequent consumption and more consumption in single sessions among US college students.

"The Forum's decision that social marketing was 'outside the remit of this review' appears to have put this critical area of alcohol marketing via social media into the 'too hard basket'," prof Lyons says.

That decision was "particularly puzzling", given the report focused on reducing alcohol-related harm for young people.

Social media should be a major focus in any review of alcohol and sponsorship, the group says.

The Government rejected the Law Commission's recommendations in 2010, but said it would set up the forum to investigate further.

The forum's report was released in the lead up to Christmas last year and after the House had risen.

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