1. New Zealand reviews into alcohol advertising and sponsorship

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.

Only Stage 1 of the recommendations were implemented, through provisions in the Act to address the irresponsible promotion of alcohol (Section 237 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act).

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Alcohol sponsorship of sporting and cultural events should be phased out as soon as possible.
  4. A portion of the revenue gathered by alcohol excise taxes should be ring-fenced to replace alcohol sponsorship for sport and cultural activities.
  5. 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.

Recommendations on Alcohol Advertising & Sponsorship (Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising & Sponsorship)