Omissions from the Bill
The terms of reference of the Liquor Review 1996 included both alcohol advertising and container labelling. However, although submissions had been made, these matters were set aside by the Liquor Review committee on the grounds that the advertising industry was to review its voluntary code early this year, and container labelling was being considered by the Australia & New Zealand Food Authority.
In April 1994, the Potter Review added five new principles, redrafted some rules and recommended wider consultation by the industrys pre-vetter and wider promotion of the complaints procedure. It dismissed a large number of submissions advocated a total ban on broadcast liquor advertising, and a growing body of research evidence showed the response of children and young people to the quadrupling of alcohol advertising that occurred after the 1992 policy change.
A private members bill first introduced by Joy McLauchlin in September 1992 reached a select committee but in 1996 was withdrawn on the assurance that policy on alcohol advertising would be fully considered together with other alcohol policy issues in the review of the Sale of Liquor Act. This is not the case. Alcohol advertising was set aside because the ASA was planning a further review of its code. This was done with terms of restricted to new matters only and resulted in a few small adjustments to the code.
There has been no proper opportunity for politicians, policy makers and the public to consider the impact and implications of alcohol advertising on the broadcast media.
At the second reading of the Bill a supplementary order prohibiting alcohol advertising on television was presented by Lianne Dalziel, Labour MP. The Alcohol & Public Health Unit supports this amendment. There were objections and the matter was not voted on and was not referred to the Justice Select Committee along with the Bill.
The increase in typical quantities consumed was particularly marked immediately following the 1992 policy change, during the year in which the average 10-17 year old was exposed to 317 viewings of some very powerful alcohol advertisements (Casswell, et al. 1994). The suggestion that this increase in heavy drinking among the young was affected by the new broadcast advertising is supported by the results of qualitative research carried out by the Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit at this time.
Alcohol advertising is one of many things which affect young peoples drinking, including their families, friends, ease of access and the price. In New Zealand, research has shown that alcohol ads are well designed to meet important needs among young people (Wyllie 1997). They produce a positive emotional response which is particularly important in shaping younger peoples views of alcohol (Holibar et al 1994), as well as for those already encountering problems with drinking (Thomson et al. 1994; Thomson et al. 1997). They also suggest that drinking can provide positive benefits such as making sure you will have mates and are a real man. These are key goals for young people as they become adults.
Alcohol advertising is noticed by children in their formative years when their attitudes towards the use of alcohol are developing (Wyllie, Casswell & Stewart 1989). In a sample of New Zealand children aged 10 to 17 years, those who liked the television advertising more than the others also held significantly more positive views about drinking, and were more likely to say that they would be drinking at least weekly when aged 20. These expectancy measures are good indicators of likely future behaviour.
Among 10 to 13 year old boys, half said that they knew more about drinking from watching alcohol ads. The 14 to 17 year olds who liked the ads best were more likely to be already drinking. Part of this effect was because liking the ads was linked with feeling that drinking makes life more fun and exciting and people get on better together when theyve had a few drinks (Wyllie et al. 1994a&b: Holibar et al. 1994).
A longitudinal study of Dunedin teenagers has found that those who recalled more of the alcohol ads when aged 15 years drank larger quantities of beer when they were aged 18 (Connolly et al. 1994). A more recent analysis incorporating data from the same sample at an older age has found that how much the same young people liked alcohol advertising when they were aged 18 also had an effect on how much they were drinking at age 21. Those who liked the advertising the most drank more later and this heavier drinking was in turn linked to self reports of aggressive behaviour linked to their drinking. This effect was independent of how much they were drinking earlier (Casswell & Zhang, 1998). Both of these recent analyses of longitudinal data from New Zealand are unique in investigating the impact of alcohol advertising within a longitudinal methodology and have strengthened the body of research in this area.
At the second reading of the Bill a supplementary order including a prohibition on promotions which incite excessive or fast drinking was presented by Lianne Dalziel, Labour MP. The Alcohol & Public Health Unit suppots this amendment. There were objections and the matter was not voted on and was not referred to the Justice Select Committee along with the Bill.
To be most effective, the label should be a strongly worded message about a single health risk, rotated from an approved set of messages with stipulated requirements on placement, size and visibility (MacKinnon 1993; Maloufe et al. 1993). The same date of implementation should be required for labels on all alcohol products, and implementation should be accompanied by a health promotion campaign on alcohol risk issues (Greenfield, 1997).
Research on United States experiences with alcohol (and also tobacco) warning labels shows that these can be an effective means of reminding drinkers of alcohol related risks, and influencing both social behaviour and the choices of individual consumers (Greenfield, 1997). It is concluded that warnings of health risks on alcohol containers can be a well-targeted, low cost and publicly supported mechanism for raising awareness about alcohol related harm, and for influencing the social climate in which drinking occurs.
At the second reading of the Bill a supplementary order to require warning lables on alcohol containers was presented by Dianne Yates, Labour MP. The Alcohol & Public Health Unit suppots this amendment. There were objections and the matter was not voted on and was not referred to the Justice Select Committee along with the Bill.