New Zealand Law Commission 2010
In 2010, the Law Commission reviewed our liquor laws, recommending that a three-stage process be implemented to ultimately lead to alcohol advertising being prohibited.
The other two stages, however, were not implemented.
Stage 2 proposed the establishment of an interdepartmental committee overseen by the Ministers of Health and Justice to plan and implement the next phase of a programme to limit exposure to alcohol promotion and restrict the content of alcohol promotion messages. This committee (The Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship) was established and produced a report (see below) but the Government has not yet responded. Further recommendations for stage 2 included:
- Television and Radio watershed hour of 10pm
- No alcohol advertising on public transport or movie theatres
- No alcohol advertising at sports and cultural events or music festivals
Stage 3 of the programme would implement further restrictions:
- No images of drinkers or depictions of drinking atmosphere in advertisements
- Objective product information only to be included in advertisements
- No alcohol-related sponsorship of any cultural or sport events or activities
- Only allowing advertising in press with majority readership over 20 years of age
The Law Commission noted the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 provides a useful model for controlling advertising and replacing sponsorship.
Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship 2014
In early 2014, a Ministerial Forum was established to consider whether further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship were needed in New Zealand to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Following public submissions, the Forum reported its recommendations to the Minister of Justice and the Associate Minister of Health in October of the same year.
Just like the Law Commission did in 2010, the Forum also made strong calls to reduce the harm from advertising and sponsorship. The following steps were recommended in its report:
- Alcohol advertising, other than that communicating objective product information, should be restricted in all media in New Zealand, including alcohol promotion on the internet and social media sites.
- All permitted alcohol advertising should be accompanied by health advisory statements. In particular, these health advisory statements should include a warning of the risks associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy, and drinking by young people.
- Alcohol sponsorship of sporting and cultural events should be phased out as soon as possible.
- A portion of the revenue gathered by alcohol excise taxes should be ring-fenced to replace alcohol sponsorship for sport and cultural activities.
- The self-regulation of alcohol marketing (i.e. ASA) should be replaced with an independent body to manage and enforce the increased restrictions on advertising and sponsorship.
As at December 2020, the report is yet to receive a formal response from any Government. As such, community action is important to enable the above recommendations to be adopted.
Alcohol product packaging and labelling
The ASA Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol also covers the standards for alcohol product packaging.
For example, alcohol products shall not use designs, motifs, or cartoon characters that have strong or evident appeal to minors or that create confusion with confectionary or soft drinks.
Click here for more information on the Code.
The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code also contains guidelines for the Labelling of Alcoholic Beverages (2104).
For example, there are some specific requirements for alcohol labelling including the display of the number of standard drinks on each product. Unlike other beverages (and foods) nutritional information isn’t required for alcohol beverages at this stage.
There was a long standing application (with Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) for alcohol to carry advisory statements (warning labels) recommending drinkers not to consume alcohol if they are pregnant. However, New Zealand (and Australian) Government have long deferred to self-regulation. However in July 2020, after over 20 years of advocacy, NZ and Australian Ministers voted to mandate a strong evidence based pregnancy health warning label on alcohol products (see below). Visit the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website for technical information.
Please check out the section on Alcohol & Pregnancy for more information,
Section 400 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act sets the Regulations regarding the banning or restricting of certain alcohol products.
This allows for the Minister of Justice to ban or restrict a product, its distribution, importation, manufacture or sale, control or prohibit its advertising, display, labelling, packaging or promotion.
This clause was aimed at addressing the issues relating to RTDs in New Zealand, due to increasing evidence and concerns that they were associated with increased drinking and harm among young people, and also the increasing alcohol content of these beverages. The Minister at the time chose not to proceed with plans to restrict the sale of RTD’s above 5%, but to allow the industry to self-regulate their RTD products containing no more than 7% of alcohol or no more than 2 standards drink per container. For more information, please click here.