NAAA applauds Ministers for ensuring that a clear, visible and honest health warning appears on alcohol products

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) congratulates Ministers on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation for mandating an effective health warning label on alcohol products to discourage alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

NAAA Co-Chair Jane Martin said, “We congratulate Ministers for approving what the evidence shows to be the most effective pregnancy warning label. In doing so, they have played their part in delivering a responsible reform that will reduce the number of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and puts the health of babies ahead of the commercial interests of alcohol companies.

“The label incorporates an eye-catching combination of red, white and black and uses the words ‘Pregnancy Warning’ sending a strong message to the community that alcohol use in pregnancy causes harm.

“The fact is, there is no safe level of alcohol use in pregnancy. Alcohol is the only cause of FASD (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder), a devastating, lifelong disability for which there is no cure. It also causes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defects and developmental problems.

“Despite this, alcohol companies have not been required to place a standard health warning on all products. The decision to mandate an effective label ensures people have access to clear information about the effect alcohol can have on unborn babies from July 2023. Recent polling shows that 95 per cent of Australians agree that people have a right to know that drinking alcohol whilst pregnant can cause lifelong harm to an unborn baby.”

The decision has strong support, with the visible health warning campaign supported by 165 organisations and 4,000 community advocates and leaders.

NAAA calls on Ministers to vote for a clear, visible and honest health warning on alcohol products this Friday

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is calling on Ministers on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation to put the health and wellbeing of children first by approving the most effective pregnancy health warning label on alcohol products when they meet on Friday.

NAAA commends Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for recommending that a pregnancy health warning label with three colours – red, black and white – as being the most effective and urges Ministers to vote for this label.

The alcohol industry continues to aggressively resist the introduction of effective pregnancy health warning labels on alcohol products.

NAAA Co-Chair Jane Martin said, “Watering down the warning colours from red, black and white would make the warning virtually invisible.”

“Yet again we are seeing the alcohol industry is placing commercial interests ahead of the health and wellbeing of our children by actively campaigning for a weakened pregnancy warning label.”

“We are also disappointed that FSANZ has amended the label’s signal wording from ‘Health Warning’ to ‘Pregnancy Warning’ as this narrows the audience.

“Alcohol is the only cause of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This is a devastating, lifelong condition that can be prevented when women are aware of the risks of drinking while pregnant, and supported by their families, friends and the broader community to have alcohol free pregnancies.”

FSANZ conservatively estimated the health-related cost of FASD across Australia and New Zealand to be A$27.6 billion over 20 years. Just over 1 per cent of FASD cases need to be prevented to offset the total cost of label changes.

“Half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, making the risk of alcohol exposure very high; yet a quarter of Australians don’t know that drinking during pregnancy is harmful.

“FASD is the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in Australia. The alcohol industry does not want a clear and effective health warning label because it does not want people to know about the real risks of alcohol use during pregnancy.”

NAAA welcomes alcohol harm reductions in Northern Territory thanks to minimum unit price on alcohol

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has joined other public health groups today calling for other Australian jurisdictions to follow the lead of the Northern Territory Government and introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol to support the health of their communities.

An independent report released today shows that the implementation of a minimum unit price on alcohol in the Territory has been associated with significant reductions in alcohol-related assaults, ambulance attendances, emergency department presentations, road traffic crashes and child protection notifications.

NAAA Co-Chair Jane Martin has welcomed these important reductions in harm for the Northern Territory community.

“Alcohol related harm has had a devastating impact on Northern Territory communities, with the Territory experiencing the highest rate of alcohol-fuelled hospitalisations and deaths.”

“Minimum Unit pricing, along with other harm reduction initiatives in the Northern Territory, is helping to build healthier and safer communities.”

Since a minimum unit price on alcohol was introduced in the Northern Territory in October 2018, a standard alcoholic drink cannot be legally sold for less than $1.30.

“The Northern Territory government should be congratulated on its leadership and commitment to improving the lives of its citizens,” Ms Martin said.

The NAAA is now urging all states and territories to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol, as part of a comprehensive suite of alcohol harm-reduction measures.

– ENDS –

National Alliance for Action on Alcohol Co-Chair Jane Martin (Cancer Council Victoria) is available for interview.

Media contact: Kim Loudon, 0452 161 986, kim.loudon@cancervic.org.au

About the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol:

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is a national coalition representing more than 20 organisations from across Australia. NAAA’s members cover a diverse range of interests, including public health, law enforcement, local government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, child and adolescent health, and family and community services.

www.actiononalcohol.org.au             Twitter: @ACTIONonALCOHOL

Media Release

 

Summer exposes children to more harmful alcohol advertising

Eighteen-year-old Cole Miller has become the latest victim in what is believed to be an alcohol-fuelled attack, passing away in a Queensland hospital yesterday after being punched in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane early on Sunday morning.

Dr John Crozier, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee said that Mr Miller’s death was a tragedy and urged the Queensland Government to bring in reduced trading hours as soon as possible.

“It is shameful that while young people are killed in these unprovoked attacks, children continue to be exposed to harmful alcohol advertising as families tune their televisions to live sporting events over the holidays,” Dr Crozier said.

“The Australian Government failed to end the unhealthy link between alcohol sponsorship and sport when the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice was recently reviewed.

“The Code contains a loophole which allows alcohol advertising before 8.30pm during live broadcasts of sporting events, and as a result children are exposed to an ever increasing rate of alcohol advertising.

“Instead of strengthening the regulations, the revised Code of Practice has lowered the bar even further, extending the times at which alcohol can be advertised, broadening the range of alcohol promotions that are exempt from regulation, and reducing the accessibility of the complaints process.

“Alcohol advertising has never been as pervasive, as inventive, and as well-resourced as it is now. There is an urgent need for effective regulation that prioritises the health of children and young people.”

National market research earlier this year showed that 74 percent of Australians support phasing out alcohol commercials from television sports broadcasts, with only 8 percent opposed.

“Children who regularly see alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age, and drink at harmful levels when they reach adult-hood. Much of this marketing also reinforces the harmful drinking culture in Australia and overwhelms health and medical efforts to change this,” Dr Crozier said.

“We know that an expert report prepared by the Australian National Preventive Health Agency more than a year ago recommended that the Government legislate to control alcohol advertising and marketing if the industry failed to voluntarily remove the live sports broadcast exemption.

“Commercial interests have been prioritised over expert advice and community concerns, and it is time for either the Minister for Communications or the relevant Minister from the Health portfolio to step in and acknowledge the failure of self-regulation and the need for legislated controls.

“A whole-of-system review that considers the effect of alcohol advertising on young people across all mediums is required, and the NAAA is calling for an immediate end to the Code of Practice loophole which allows alcohol advertising during sporting events before 8.30pm.”


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MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
For further information or to arrange an interview with Dr Crozier please contact:

Amy Kimber – 0437 144 050