Health leaders call for ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport

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ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP in sport should be banned, a group of more than 30 health leaders has urged.

Children are being exposed to alcohol advertising that is creating automatic links between drinking brands and sport, the leading doctors warned in a letter published in The Guardian newspaper yesterday.

The call for a ban, which has been made by the heads of the Royal College of Physicians, Anaesthetists and Nursing as well as charity directors and public health campaigners among others, is aimed directly at the Government, which they urged to “listen to the people rather than to big business”.

“Self-regulation of alcohol advertising isn’t working when it allows drink brands to dominate sporting events that attract children as well as adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years,” the letter stated.

This year’s World Cup featured one example of alcohol advertising for each minute of football, the letter’s signatories said.

They maintained that people would consider it “outrageous” if tobacco firms became brand ambassadors for big football teams, and questioned the acceptability of drinks advertising in comparison.

A spokeswoman for the Portman group, which represents alcohol producers, told The Guardian: “Calling for a ban does not reflect the reality of what is happening in the UK, where official government statistics show that rates of binge drinking among 16- to 24-year-olds are in significant decline and the number of children even trying alcohol is at a record low.”

She added that alcohol sponsorship contributed significantly to the country’s economy.