On Thursday 30 September 2021, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI), held an online launch event for the publication of their new 'Alcohol marketing during the 2020 Six Nations Championship' report. The event had around 90 participants and we got to hear Rick Purves and Nathan Critchlow from the Univeristy of Stirling talk about the findings of their report.

Previous research has shown that children exposed to alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age, and drink more heavily in later life, and that people in recovery from alcohol dependence find the ubiquitous availability and marketing of alcohol a risk to their recovery. In 'Alcohol marketing during the 2020 Six Nations Championship', researchers at the University of Stirling examined the prevalence of alcohol advertising in the 2020 Six Nations, how this differs across host countries in relation to their marketing policies and the implications of Ireland’s November 2021 marketing policy changes.

The report found alcohol references every 12 to 15 seconds during matches between UK nations and that, during the Scotland vs. England match played in Scotland, alcohol was referenced 961 times and 0.4% of these references were accompanied by responsible drinking messages. Further evidence showed that even when countries do have marketing restrictions in place, the alcohol industry works to circumvent them by linking imagery to the brand without explicitly naming it. Based on this evidence, the report makes clear recommendations for research, policy and practise.

 

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Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Adopting stricter alcohol marketing regulations to ensure fewer children are exposed to direct alcohol advertising during events of this scale.
  • Preventing loophole approaches from drinks companies which allow ‘alibi marketing’ tactics to continue to market products indirectly.
  • Restricting the marketing of alcohol and implementing a ban on sports sponsorship in Scotland to restrict minor’s exposure to harmful products and to break the link between alcohol and sports.