Keep a lookout for alcohol advertising and promotion in your community
Be observant - be aware of alcohol advertising and promotions in and around your community.
Keep a record - If you see or hear something that you don’t think is appropriate or responsible keep a record of the details, and as much information as you can about it including the product, company or agencies associated with it, where and when you saw or heard it. Keep a copy or take a photograph of it.
Make a complaint – if you feel that an advertisement, TV/radio programme or alcohol sign does not comply with the relevant Codes or bylaws then you can proceed to make a complaint.
Alcohol advertisements and promotions come in many forms
There are many forms of alcohol advertising:
Alcohol is also being promoted by schools in fundraising initiatives.
The law on alcohol advertising / promotions
In the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, there are two sections that are relevant to alcohol advertising and promotion in the community:
- Single Area provisions for supermarkets/grocery stores which restrict the exposure of alcohol within these premises
- Irresponsible Promotion of Alcohol - this means that:
“A person commits an offence if, in the course of carrying on a business, that person- (a) does anything that encourages people, or is likely to encourage people, to consume alcohol to an excessive extent, whether on licensed premises or at any other place;”
In the case of persons who are not licensees who are convicted under this section, they are liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.
Voluntary Code for alcohol advertising and promotion
Most advertising controls in New Zealand come in the form of voluntary standards, regulated by the alcohol/media industry. Click here to learn more.
Contact your local council to find out if there is a policy concerning advertising on public transport vehicles and or infrastructure, and if there is any reference to alcohol advertising.
Public transport advertising policies
Many young people use public transport to go about their day-to-day lives. It is important that public transport train stations, bus stops, and vehicles are free from alcohol advertising.
Different agencies (e.g. within Council or Transport) may be responsible for developing and enforcing an alcohol advertising policy on public transport. It is best to check with your local Council. However, contract arrangements will vary, and in some cases decisions about what kind of advertisements can be displayed will rest with an advertising company or with a private transport operator.
It may be likely that any alcohol advertising policy cannot be included in public transport contracts until they come up for renewal. If this is the case, you can always encourage the transport or advertising companies to refrain from placing alcohol advertising.
Alcohol advertising on public transport
Advertising on public transport is another way that alcohol companies advertise to people in our communities. Part of the out of home sector, alcohol companies have placed advertisements on or inside vehicles (buses, trains, ferries etc.), and at stations, bus stops, benches, and kiosks etc. The two main categories are vehicles and infrastructure.
Fortunately, many public transport systems, including Auckland, already have policies in place to exclude alcohol advertising. However, a policy excluding alcohol advertising may not guarantee that a policy is being adhered to.
That said, the impact of alcohol advertising on public transport is still likely to be important, given that people may be exposed to alcohol advertising on public transport on a regular basis.
Does your Council have a signage bylaw or do you need to check the district plan?
Check to see if your Council has a signage bylaw. If your Council does not have a signage bylaw check the district plan to see if there are any requirements around signage or advertising. To find the website of your Local Council, please click here.
Make a complaint if you feel there is a breach of a bylaw or district plan
If your Council does have a bylaw, and you think it is being breached you can make a complaint. You can do the same if the signs at licensed premises are inconsistent with the requirements of the district plan.
Record the details of the advertisement - you can keep track of all signage-related incidents in a log. We have created one for you below.
Take a photo of the possible non-compliant signage
After collecting relevant evidence, raise your concerns with your local Council, as they are responsible for enforcing bylaws and ensuring the district plan is followed.
If your council does not have a signage bylaw
If your council does not have a signage bylaw, check if there are appropriate controls on signage in the district plan or in other bylaws. If there are no appropriate controls, contact your local council to ask if there are plans to develop controls on signage. If not, you could encourage your council to develop a signage bylaw or to make changes to their district plan. Please check out the section on alcohol in public places.
You can highlight the importance of signage controls in your community:
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, please click here;
- Raise community awareness of the harms from alcohol advertising - please check out the sections on seeking others in the community who are interested and get your message across ;
- Write a letter to your representatives at council or on the local/community board to raise your concerns. You may find the template below helpful:
Seeking to have conditions imposed on a licensed premise
When a licence comes up for renewal, you might consider making an objection or requesting conditions be included in the licence. These conditions could include limiting or removing signage and advertising visible from the outside of the premises.
Record the details of the signage and advertising in a log like the one below.
Make it clear in your objection letter what conditions you would like imposed on the licence, here are some examples:
- All signs and advertisements must be fully compliant with local bylaws and district plans
- Limit advertising and signage to the trading name of the premises only
- Maximum of 2 signs visible from outside the premises
- No advertising of alcohol brands or prices visible from outside the premises
- Windows must be clean and clear, with signs limited to 25% of the window area
- No portable signs (sandwich boards, banners/flags, bollard sleeves)
In your objection letter, it may be useful to quote local bylaw(s) or the district plan. Check if there in your area applying to external signage or advertising.
It may be difficult to have conditions imposed on the licence – but you may be able to encourage the applicant to sign an undertaking. An undertaking is a formal written statement (can even be in an email) that the applicant promises to adhere to certain requirements.
Please visit the section on Alcohol Licensing to learn more about objecting to a liquor licence application.
Advertising at Alcohol Outlets
Alcohol signage outside licensed premises is a form of advertising. Compared to mainstream forms of alcohol advertising, there is less research in relation to alcohol advertising outside alcohol retail outlets.
Signs at licensed premises are considered alcohol advertisements under the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol if they are promoting alcohol products, brands or outlets. The brand of an alcohol outlet is not automatically considered an alcohol advertisement – the intent of the advertisement must be to promote the consumption of alcohol. See the definitions listed in the Code itself for more information.
Most signage at alcohol outlets will not breach the Code by way of their content – however the location of the outlet may raise concerns about the placement of the advertising – if it is next to a school or other site frequented by children then the advertisement may not meet standards of social responsibility.
Council Bylaws and District Plans
Some areas will have controls on signs at licensed premises through a district or unitary plan, while some areas, such as Auckland will have a signage bylaw. A signage bylaw may have different requirements for different types of premises, and different zones. However, they are likely to apply to signs at licensed premises.
Rules are set at each council, and are unlikely to be designed specifically for signage at alcohol outlets. For example, Auckland Council’s Signage Bylaw has rules for sandwich board and flag signs (portable signs), window signs, wall mounted signs, and veranda signs:
- only one portable sign per premises, with placement and size limitations
- no more than 50% height or width of windows to be covered by signs
- wall mounted signs to be no greater than three square metres in area
- No above veranda signs permitted
- Veranda fascia signs must be less than 0.6 metres in height
The rules listed above are just examples and the actual requirements will be different in different zoning areas, and premises may also have consents exempting them from the requirements.
Signage rules apply to all types of premises that have signs, including licensed premises, though the details can be complex and there may be exemptions and exceptions.
In the Wellington region signs are mainly regulated through district plans. Wellington City in their district plan (rule 126.96.36.199 - page 38) for business areas says that signs must only be displayed on plain wall surfaces an must not cover windows or architectural features. In Porirua City, signs are regulated differently in City Centre, Suburban, Industrial, and Rural Zones under the District Plan. In the Suburban zone, signs must relate to the activities on site, and not exceed one square metre in total area (section D3.2.1 Suburban Zone Standards (xv) signs).
Kapiti Coast District Plan has provisions around signs indicating signs on walls and windows shall not cover more than 20% of the wall or window area, and that sign protruding out from a wall must be a minimum of 2.5 metres above the footpath level, not protrude more the 500 mm from the wall, and not exceed one square metre in area. See 12.3.3 (page 27) of the District Plan.
Bylaws setting out requirements for signs can be found in Whangarei, Waimakariri, Thames Coromandel, Ashburton, and other areas. Check with your local council for relevant bylaws or district plan requirements regarding signs. Not all local councils will have requirements that are useful for reducing advertising at alcohol outlets.
Knowing what the rules are regarding signage and advertising in your local area will enable you to take effective and appropriate actions.
Placing conditions relating to external signage and advertising of alcohol on a licensed premises
Leading up to and during the renewal of the licensed premise, you may consider requesting that the District Licensing Committee place conditions such as removing external signage and advertising of alcohol.
Sometimes it can be difficult to have conditions imposed on the licence – but this doesn’t mean that you can’t discuss these with the applicant and encourage them to sign an undertaking. An undertaking is a formal written statement (can even be in an email) that the applicant promises to adhere to certain requirements.
If you are not comfortable engaging with the licensee, you could talk with the council inspectors or the medical officer of health regarding your concerns about signage and alcohol advertising.
If you were to make an objection to a licence renewal or even a new licence you would need to argue that the signage and advertising is not consistent with the criteria for issue or renewal of licences (see s105 and s131). Key criteria include the suitability of the applicant (they may be breaching local bylaws or the district plan with their signs and advertising), the design and layout of the premises, the amenity (the pleasantness or agreeableness, including visual) and good order of the locality, and the manner in which alcohol has been sold, displayed, advertised, or promoted. Your opposition to a licence application or renewal will be significantly stronger if the Council, Medical Officer of Health, or Police are also opposing, so it is a good idea to talk with these agencies beforehand.
Please visit the next section if you are considering to TAKE ACTION
Please visit the section on Alcohol Licensing to learn more about objecting to a liquor licence application.
Alcohol signage outside liquor stores
Alcohol signage outside licensed premises is a form of location-based outdoor promotion. Compared to mainstream forms of alcohol advertising, there is less research in relation to alcohol advertising outside alcohol retail outlets.
One study, which reviewed existing studies on this topic, found that greater exposure to advertising in local communities (and higher density of alcohol outlets) may be related to higher alcohol use, especially among adolescents.
A strong study from Chicago indicated that exposure to outdoor alcohol advertising near schools was related to young people’s future drinking intentions. A small study in New York among African-American women found that exposure to outdoor advertising in residential neighbourhoods was related to problem drinking. In tertiary education campuses where takeaway alcohol outlets were free from advertising (inside and outside), binge drinking rates were lower among students.
In the city of Baltimore in the United States, takeaway alcohol outlets with alcohol advertisements visible outside had 15% more violent crimes, and 28% more homicides, in the surrounding area within 1000 feet than outlets without visible alcohol advertisements.
Consult local regulatory agencies in your area
If you feel your supermarket is not limiting exposure and promotion of alcohol to a single area(s), consult your local regulatory agencies. As a starting point, contact your local PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT.
You may also contact the licensing team of the local council in your area as they deal with Local Alcohol Policies or Licence Applications. Here is a list of LOCAL COUNCIL whereby you may search for contact details of the respective alcohol licensing team in your area.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 introduced restrictions on where supermarket and groceries stores can display and promote alcohol. This is now confined to a “single area” within the store. Promotions must not be seen or heard outside of this area or from outside of the store.
Click here to read the legislation relating to single areas for supermarkets.
Consult your local regulatory agencies for the most updated information on alcohol areas in supermarkets. A good starting point is contacting your local PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT .
You may also contact the licensing team of your local council as they deal with Local Alcohol Policies or Licence Applications. Here is a list of LOCAL COUNCIL whereby you may search for contact details of the respective alcohol licensing team in your area.