There is renewed pressure on the alcohol advertising industry as a study finds alcohol ads encourage young Australians to engage in risky drinking.

A report funded by National Health & Medical Research Council Partnership Project, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and VicHealth collated studies of the drinking behaviour of thousands of teenagers of high-school age over a period of more than 10 years.

“How do alcohol control policies influence Australian adolescent drinking trends?” examined how alcohol policies, TV advertising, the density of shops selling alcohol, and the proportion of alcohol-related articles in daily newspapers influence the drinking behaviour of teens.

Alcohol advertising, especially that linked to sport, has long been a contentious issue in Australia. A survey of adults as long as six years ago found that an overwhelming majority of adults believed alcohol advertising and sport don’t mix and the industry has had to defend itself against calls for a ban.

But alcohol brands continue to advertise at major sporting events, including the current Australian Open, which, AdNews noted, has partnered with Canadian Club, Coopers and Aperol Spritz.

The report’s lead, Dr Victoria White, stressed it was important to look at the variables influencing drinking amongst young people.

“One of the key findings of this report is that the risky drinking of adolescents can be reduced by restricting youth access to alcohol, reducing the availability of alcohol, and reducing television advertising,” she said.

“The study emphasises the important role of government-led, population-directed policies in cutting the strings on alcohol inducements that pull our young generations towards problem drinking.”

Even though teenagers had been exposed to less advertising over the period of the study, the report said more needs to be done to reduce drinking.

The overall decrease in alcohol advertising on TV may be due to a change in brands’ marketing strategies, the study added – away from general TV ads, to the wider use of other channels, such as the internet and sponsorships.

Its conclusion is that self-regulation hasn't succeeded in shielding teens from alcohol advertising and echoes calls to change the law that allows unrestricted advertising during sporting events on TV.

Sourced from AdNews; additional content by WARC staff