Rehab Reviews Australia

Unveiling the Dark Side: Unregulated Marketing of Alcohol and its Detrimental Effects on Society’s Youngest Minds

Australia, the sixth largest country in the world, known for its remarkable landscapes and low population density (three people per square kilometre), is actually striving to save its citizens from alcohol and illicit drugs. Recent analysis from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the national agency for information and statistics on the country’s wellbeing, reveals that one out of every 20 deaths is directly attributable to alcohol and illicit drugs. Meanwhile, for indirect or secondary causes related to alcohol and other drug use, the statistic is much higher. The situation is alarming, with around half a million Australians seeking treatment for alcohol and other drug-related issues and the public sector barely resourced to treat one third of that number.

Watchdogs over $20 billion alcohol industry are owned and operated by the industry itself - The cats are in charge of the canary

alcohol advertising at sports games 1

Alcohol marketing has become increasingly pervasive, targeting children and adolescents with enticing advertisements that glamorize alcohol consumption.

Australia has a drinking culture, with alcohol playing a unique role in the fabric of everyday life. The alcohol industry contributes more than $20 billion annually to the national economy and employs more than half a million people. The industry, through its powerful lobby groups and associations, carries the extraordinarily heavy responsibility for self-regulation. DrinkWise Australia is owned and fully sponsored by the alcohol industry, and the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme, by its own admission, is a “quasi-regulatory system of alcohol marketing regulation”. The latter has only one “quasi-rule”, which is that alcohol marketing can only be directed at an audience that is made up of 75% adults. However, that percentage is calculated by the industry itself.

Nearly all-day marketing, unenforceability of self-regulation are a mockery

alcohol advertising 1

The two caveats to these quasi-rule rules are 1), that if there is sponsorship, such as for a sporting event, then the percentage of adults viewing alcohol marketing becomes irrelevant. Australia is most likely one of the few countries in the world where sporting events are featured on television from morning to night. And, 2), that the industry can never be held responsible if they do breach their own rules. In this modern world of disruptive technologies and individually tailored, marketing based psychosocial profiles from social media, anyone would have to be completely naïve to believe that the alcohol industry does not take full advantage of this unfettered commercial opportunity to target current customers, while grooming future customers. The World Health Organisation has consistently maintained in all its publications that alcohol and its related problems within a community is impacted heavily by three main causes: price, accessibility and ADVERTISING. Today, at any Aldi store, a four-litre cask of wine is below ten dollars.

parents drinking alcohol around kids 1

Children are increasingly exposed to alcohol marketing through various channels, including television, social media, sports events, and even video games. These advertisements often depict alcohol consumption as glamorous, fun, and essential for social acceptance. Consequently, children develop positive associations with alcohol, perceiving it as a desirable and normal part of their future lives.

The alcohol industry’s marketing strategies often exploit loopholes in regulations, allowing for the unregulated exposure of children to alcohol advertisements. For instance, advertisers frequently use subtle and indirect techniques to appeal to children, such as featuring cartoon characters or attractive models in their ads. By associating alcohol with beloved characters or attractive individuals, children develop positive attitudes towards the product. Furthermore, alcohol companies often sponsor sporting events or music festivals that attract a young audience, effectively normalising alcohol consumption among adolescents. These manipulative tactics contribute to the normalisation of alcohol in the eyes of children, leading to potential long-term consequences.

Several countries have implemented successful regulations to combat the unregulated marketing of alcohol to children. For example, France has banned alcohol advertising on television and in cinemas, reducing children’s exposure to alcohol commercials. Norway has taken a step further by prohibiting all forms of alcohol advertising, including sponsorship of cultural and sports events. These case studies highlight the effectiveness of stringent regulations in curbing the influence of alcohol marketing on children and serve as models for other nations to follow.

Alcohol rarely publicised as key link to coronary heart disease

The figure for drug-induced deaths reported in 2016 was 1,808, which marks its highest level in 20 years. The count was contributed by most of the middle-aged individuals living outside the capital regions who misused prescription drugs, such as oxycodone or benzodiazepines, in a polypharmacy setting. While prescription drugs are the major contributors to the highest number of drug-induced deaths, there is a rapid expansion in the count of methamphetamine deaths, which is about four times the ratio earlier reported in 1999 (0.4 deaths compared to 1.6 deaths per 1,000 persons for today). Reportedly, deaths from prescription opiates and benzodiazepines are common among older people (45 years and over), while deaths from substances such as methamphetamines and heroin are prominent among a younger demographic group (under 35 years).

people drinking alcohol in bars and clubs

Each year, roughly 20% of Australians aged 16–85 experience a mental health illness. Of those, 50% also have an alcohol or other drug-use disorder. Almost half of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, over 54% of whom will never receive treatment. The ongoing costs to the community are very difficult to calculate. Sick days, occupational injuries, affected co-workers, work-cover-related incidents, unhealthy workplaces, insurance claims, emergency ward visits, ambulance calls, road accidents, crime, policing, affected police, ambulance and emergency service workers, prisons, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, GPs, young people exposed to continual heavy drinking practices, welfare, social services, youth service, youth residential services, courts, mental illness, dual diagnoses, victims of violence, victims of domestic violence, rehabilitation, affected family and friends of people with an alcohol and/or other drug problem is a list that is far from an exaggeration. And the list just keeps growing. Almost no one in Australia is immune to the effects of alcohol and or other drug-related issues.

The unregulated marketing of alcohol poses a significant threat to society’s youngest minds. Children are vulnerable to the enticing messages conveyed by alcohol advertisements, leading to increased alcohol consumption and potential harm. It is imperative for parents, educators, and governments to address this issue collectively. By engaging in open and honest conversations, implementing comprehensive education programs, and enacting stricter regulations, we can protect our children from the harmful effects of alcohol marketing and further educate adults about the link between alcohol and heart disease.

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