Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Alcohol toll reduction bill: gutless or token?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-20


The Commonwealth Inquiry into Alcohol Toll Reduction Bill 2007 is now open for submissions until 2008-06-18.  Nice aim, pity about the terms of reference, which might have been useful last century, but not in this one.

The bill does not do anything real about public education or health management.  It merely requires a health warning on alcoholic products, places restrictions on television and radio (not internet) advertisements aimed at children or which link drinking to personal, business, social, sporting, sexual or other success.

It’s good as far as it goes, but it does nothing to control internet advertising, which is increasingly used by many businesses, particularly "viral" advertising.

  • How many people viewed the clip of milling operatic yobbos in a New Zealand field, wanting their "bloody beer", so popular on the internet before it was released on TV?
  • Does the bill target embedded or popup clips in browsers?  Does it address the possibility of advertisements on web sites that have implied links to "business, social, sporting, sexual or other success", for example, a site owned by a footy club?

Does the text of the bill even contain a single instance of "internet", "video" or "web"?  You guessed it: NO!

Unless there are other planned bills or programs, encouraging ads from health authorities, or encouraging GPs to do give counselling and liver function tests if they think people are "at risk" (perhaps with a special rebate or extra medicare payment), then this effort is flawed, and will have little effect.  I hope it is not merely a sop to health advocacy groups, designed to shut them up while allowing the industry that peddles the drug doing most harm to society almost free reign to use the fastest-growing advertising media used by young people.

I wonder if the Polar Bear associated with a brand of rum will have an entry on a social networking site?  What do you do if kids make themselves "friends" because it is "cute" or they are concerned about arctic ice depletion?

Its a bit like banning smoke signals, semaphore or telegraph ads for booze in the 1960s!

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