Kids ex­posed to al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing by so­cial me­dia sites

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ELI MWAIJUMBA

Al­co­hol cam­paign­ers in New Zealand are wor­ried about the amount of al­co­hol mar­ket­ing to which chil­dren are ex­posed.

They are con­cerned about the amount of ad­ver­tis­ing young­sters see, par­tic­u­larly through so­cial me­dia, and the lack of re­stric­tions on al­co­hol cor­po­ra­tions.

Their com­ments follow a Bri­tish study that shows 10 to 15-year-olds in Bri­tain see 10 per cent more al­co­hol tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing than their par­ents.

The study, by the Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, has al­co­hol cam­paign­ers call­ing for new re­search in New Zealand.

One of the few stud­ies com­pleted in New Zealand had sim­i­lar re­sults to the Bri­tish re­search.

A 1996 Auck­land study showed the av­er­age 10 to 17-year-old saw an al­co­hol tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ment 400 times a year.

‘‘They [al­co­hol cor­po­ra­tions] want to be able to reach younger mar­kets – that is go­ing to main­tain their cus­tomers over a life­time,’’ Al­co­hol Health­watch di­rec­tor Re­becca Wil­liams says.

Mrs Wil­liams says so­cial me­dia sites have be­come an­other tool for al­co­hol cor­po­ra­tions to ad­ver­tise their prod­ucts to young peo­ple.

‘‘They will link you to a site, you like it and you share it with all your friends.

‘‘There are ab­so­lutely no con­trols, no re­stric­tions what­so­ever.’’

The lack of re­stric­tions on the al­co­hol com­pa­nies has Massey Univer­sity School of Psy­chol­ogy As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor An­to­nia Lyons wor­ried.

‘‘The al­co­hol in­dus­try reg­u­lates their ad­ver­tis­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘You wouldn’t ex­pect it to be really ef­fec­tive be­cause the in­dus­try wants to make more profit from their prod­uct.’’

Dr Lyons says al­co­hol mar­ket­ing is so pow­er­ful that in one of her stud­ies a par­tic­i­pant thought Tui was a life­style rather than a beer.

‘‘Al­co­hol mar­ket­ing gives you a par­tic­u­lar type of iden­tity and that’s how it’s so ef­fec­tive, be­cause peo­ple will drink to pro­duce a type of iden­tity,’’ Dr Lyons says.

Mrs Wil­liams agrees and says prob­lems will con­tinue to worsen if al­co­hol mar­ket­ing is not cur­tailed.

She points to fig­ures which show more than 60 per cent of school-aged chil­dren are drink­ing al­co­hol, and a third of those are binge drink­ing.

‘‘The coun­try can’t sus­tain that pat­tern of drink­ing know­ing that 34 per cent of young adults are more likely to have a prob­lem with their al­co­hol use at some point.’’

Mrs Wil­liams says the Gov­ern­ment is the big­gest ob­sta­cle to change.

‘‘You can see very clearly that we have strong public sup­port for change but as soon as it gets into the po­lit­i­cal arena it gets wa­tered and salted down un­til we got to next to noth­ing,’’ she says.

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