Councils develop alcohol bans, Police enforce them
Councils have the powers to address concerns about disorderly behaviour and criminal offending that arises from alcohol being consumed in public places.
They can develop Alcohol Control bylaws (also known as alcohol/liquor bans or alcohol-free zones). These specify the time and day when the consumption and possession of alcohol in the public place is prohibited. For the legislation relevant to these bylaws please click here.
These bylaws may be permanent (until the bylaw is reviewed) or temporary (to cover an event or particular time period).
For example, an Alcohol Ban may cover a town centre, a park or public reserve, or a car park, and can be 24/7 or for certain times of day/night. A ban can also be put in place for a special event like a concert or other public event such as sport/game.
It is necessary for the Council to consult with its residents when creating such a bylaw.
Breaches of alcohol bans
The Police are the agency with the authority to enforce alcohol bans. They are given powers of arrest, search and seizure in relation to breaches of alcohol bans.
Breaches are dealt with by way of infringement notices – i.e. a fine of $250. This generally means that issues can be dealt with promptly. However, if there are other matters of concern to the Police other responses may be pursued. For more information on Police powers in relation to alcohol bans, please click here.
Consumption of alcohol by minors in a public place
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 also addresses the consumption of alcohol in public places. The Act makes is an offence for those under 18 years (unaccompanied by their legal parent or guardian) to consume alcohol in a public place, please visit the Police website for more information. This offence is subject to a $200 fine.
Working together to create alcohol-free spaces
It is also possible to take community action to create spaces alcohol-free without using an Alcohol Control Bylaw. The owners of the spaces can be asked that no alcohol is brought into or consumed in the space.
Drinking in public places is an important setting to take action.
Many people who go on to commit offences have been consuming alcohol in public places.
Public places may also be a popular setting for young people to drink. They can also be used as places to “pre-load” before entering licensed premises or “side-load” between visits to different bars and clubs.
Public place drinking makes people feel unsafe in their communities and has significant costs to Councils through litter, vandalism and other disorderly behaviour.
Alcohol consumption (and anti-social behaviour) can be normalised when we see it occurring in our everyday settings.
Alcohol bans/bylaws in public places can be useful to address harm in your community.
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.
Be media savvy
Be media savvy and support members of your families/whanau to also be critical of the advertising they are being exposed to. You can do this by being informed and questioning media content, not just alcohol-related content, and being open to discussing it.
Remember that advertisements and promotions are just that, and it’s OK to determine for yourself how much they influence your life.
Screen time can influence young people's attitudes and expectations regarding alcohol. Consider negotiating limits and boundaries on screen time. Most importantly, talk with your young people about what they see in their media environment. For more information about media influence on adolescents, please click here.
Support your children and teens to learn important life skills (age appropriate) such as critical thinking, making decisions, resisting peer pressure. Encourage them to ask questions of the media in their environment:
- What are the messages?
- What is the motivation behind the messages?
- Why are the messages constructed this way?
- Who is being targeted?
- Is the message credible?
- Am I being played?
Asking hard questions about media messages in your environment helps you and your family to understand, and to have more power in how you receive these messages. You will have more of a choice in accepting, questioning, resisting, or rejecting messages in your environment.
Limit exposure to alcohol products in the home
As much as possible, try to make your home an alcohol free zone – you could store alcohol out of sight, drink less often at home, refrain from drinking in front of children. You could consider minimising the amount of alcohol branded products in your home such as caps, T-shirts, and other items carrying alcohol logos.
Limit exposure to alcohol advertising in the home
As much as possible, limit children and young people’s exposure to adult programming and events. These commonly contain alcohol advertising.
Talk to your elected representatives about the need to provide more protection from alcohol advertising.
For more ideas and tips for how to reduce the exposure to alcohol in the home, please check out the following sections:
New Zealand homes are a common place for children to be exposed to alcohol marketing. Local research shows the home is the most common place for children to be exposed to alcohol marketing, with 47% of all exposures occurring in the home, most often through sports sponsorship and branded merchandise.
Exposure to alcohol advertising, including that in the home, is related to taking up drinking earlier and heavier drinking. The latest research indicates that the relationship between exposure to alcohol marketing and underage drinking is causal.
Social media is commonly used by alcohol companies to market their product. Many young people share images of themselves and alcohol brands, exposing others and using alcohol brand values to construct and position their social identities.
Being exposed to alcohol promotions can lead to alcohol harms.
Reducing exposure in our homes
In our homes, children may be exposed to many different types/forms of alcohol marketing, including:
- advertising and sponsorship of sporting events, teams, and athletes
- advertising on TV and/or radio
- alcohol promotion within TV & radio programmes and content
- alcohol marketing and images of drinking behaviour on social media from brands, influencers, and peers
- alcohol products and alcohol-branded merchandise that are owned by family members, friends.
- product placement in movies and video games
- alcohol advertising in supermarket, grocery, and off-licence mailers and other material delivered to mailboxes
Impact of advertising on adolescent drinking
Systematic reviews of research have found exposure to alcohol marketing leads to earlier initiation of drinking and heavier drinking including binge drinking among those who already drink. In particular, engagement with alcohol marketing (taking free gifts, owning branded clothing, engaging with alcohol websites and branded social media pages) saw children engaging in frequent drinking earlier. Having a favourite alcohol advertisement was associated with increased initiation of binge drinking.
Underage binge drinking has been associated with a range of negative outcomes, including peer violence, sexual violence, alcohol‐related fighting, poor school performance, suicide attempts, and using illegal drugs.
Exposure of alcohol advertising on social media
The introduction of digital technologies has opened up new platforms for marketing and promotion.
Alcohol companies aggressively use these new digital platforms, in particular social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and user-generated content.
In 2011, two major alcohol companies announced their plan to increase their digital spend on social media. Bacardi planned to shift up to 90% of its digital spend to Facebook and Diageo expressed their multi-million dollar partnership with Facebook.
Worldwide in 2012, there were 1,017 company-sponsored alcohol-brand related sites on Facebook. In Australia, the top 20 alcohol brands had more than 2.5 million followers on their Facebook pages. Hosts of these pages generated more than 4,500 items of content where followers interacted with them by liking, sharing or commenting on them for more them 2.3 million times.
Young adults are highly active on social media, engaging with their friends or socialising. As such, exposure of alcohol advertising on social media can encourage alcohol consumption. Moreover, Facebook or other social media platform provides marketers with access to the profile data of users who like pages. These types of techniques seek to embed alcohol-branded activities in the daily lives of site fans and followers making it become an intrinsic element of daily norms.
Alcohol-content, presented as visual images and or textual content, along with positive peer reactions to the posts results in showcasing of inappropriate alcohol use in a positive light.
Posting alcohol-related content on personal social media accounts is linked to adverse alcohol-related outcomes such as higher alcohol use, craving and also alcohol-related harms. Those who are exposed to alcohol-related content on social media (e.g. posts shared by or liked by their friends in their social network) have been associated with adverse alcohol outcomes.
Associate Professor Nicholas Carah of University of Queensland, has been researching the emergence of digital media platforms over the last decade. He recently gave a remote address to the Global Alcohol Policy Conference 2020 in Dublin discussion the emergence and and increasingly sophisticated development of alcohol marketing on these platforms. You can watch his presentation on YouTube here.
Currently under development. If you would like to share your experience of taking action in this area, please contact us at Alcohol Healthwatch. We would love to hear from you and include your community action in ActionPoint.