Vested Interests Attempt To Scupper Alcohol Advertising Ban

The ongoing attempts to reduce the amount of alcohol consumption in Ireland have been met with predictable opposition from those with most to lose.

Irish sporting associations receive alcohol sponsorhip

The head of Diageo in Ireland, who own the Guinness brand, has warned that a ban on sports sponsorship in Ireland could lead to a reduction in its future investment in the country. The thinly veiled threat is aimed squarely at the Government who are attempting to ban sponsorship by alcohol companies at all Irish sporting events. The plan is to phase out all sponsorship links between high-profile sporting events and alcohol brands by the year 2020.

The Gaelic Athletic Association and Irish Rugby benefit greatly from sponsorship by Guinness and Heineken respectively. It is inevitable that the ban of this sponsorship will mean less money for these huge sports. Nevertheless the Government seem determined to press ahead with the ban, realizing the devastating effect that alcohol consumption can have on young lives. The cost to the Irish taxpayer in dealing with health-care and crime issues from those abusing alcohol costs the State at least 3.7 Billion Euro annually. (* note 1)

A recent report by the Health Research Board has found that 58% of Irish people believe the Government is not doing enough to reduce alcohol consumption while 85% of Irish people believe that the current level of alcohol consumption in Ireland is far too high. Average alcohol consumption in the year 2010 was 145% higher than the average amount consumed in the year 1960, a startling increase.

Recent initiatives (and the recession) have helped to curb some of these excesses. A CSO report indicates that alcohol consumption in Ireland is actually down 19% since 2001.

Speaking at the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Committee on Transport and Communications Pat Hickey, the President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, lambasted the drinks industry:

I thought it was an absolute disgrace to read a report of an international company, Diageo, making an attack on the Irish Government and the Irish State about how they should conduct their business and investment. This is a multinational that has no interest whatsoever in Ireland except they happen to have a product beginning with ‘G’ and they promote that in Irish pubs just to get bigger profits around the world.

John Treacy is Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council and won a Silver medal in the Marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. He offered a different angle, suggesting that any ban would force the very best of Irish rugby players to ply their trade abroad, in much the same way that the best Irish soccer players work in England.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland also had their say to the Committee arguing that any ban would not address alcohol misuse. A spokesperson remarking:

Evidence shows that the principal influencers on youth drinking are parents and peers.
Alcohol consumption in Ireland has a huge cost
It should not be a real surprise then that those sporting bodies who receive sponsorship from alcohol companies would oppose any ban. It would mean that they would have to find new sponsors.

But perhaps the real question that is not being asked is just why the alcohol companies engage in such advertising? The answer is obvious if unspoken. It is clear that they hugely benefit from their sponsorship and especially benefit in attracting younger people to their brands, since it is to a large degree the younger generation who are most passionate about sport.

Younger people. The next generation of drinkers.

It is ironic that sporting agencies that are supposed to help further the health and well-being of young people are arguing for their efforts to be associated with Ireland’s biggest killer, alcohol. Of course they are most concerned about the next five years and about promoting sport in Ireland, which is admirable. But it is the next twenty-five years and the next fifty years that really should be the focus.

The links between pub-owners and politicians, especially in rural locations is hard to break. The financial contribution of the multi-national drinks companies is impossible to ignore. The Irish sports bodies are even arguing against a sponsorship ban.

Is it any wonder that there is such a huge alcohol problem in Ireland?

Meanwhile the Irish drinking binge goes on.

* note 1: See http://alcoholireland.ie/facts/alcohol-related-harm-facts-and-statistics/

by Michael Green
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Michael Green Michael Green is Manager of The Information about Ireland Site

One thought on “Vested Interests Attempt To Scupper Alcohol Advertising Ban

  1. Alcohol/Health? Some arguments are made that very small amounts of alcohol are good for you! The people who put forward these statements usually fractionate their reasoning of the definition of “health” so narrowly that any questions relating to the “broader” aspects and potential benefits are almost never considered.
    This is no better for a ~real life~ and ~balanced ~ assessment of the issue than a conversation only mentioning the social costs. {Health care system 1.2 billion etc.}

    Was it Plato who said “The Celts are one of the 4 peoples of the World who are Overly fond of Alcohol”? Was it not our own Fingal OFlaterty-Wills who said “Alcohol is the Anesthetic we use to endure the Operation of life”?
    Look at the sense of humor of your average Muslim for a dire possibility of what Ireland and Irish, could be without it.

    I do not belittle the tragedy of a beaten wife, or a life lost to a drunk driver, but to say that either of these ills will decrease in accurate proportion to a reduction in alcohol consumption is simplistic claptrap. This is not a binary issue. A sum you can add up and correspondingly adjust the inputs to get the output you think desirable. I don’t know that any researchers have looked for bruises under the Hijabs or berkers , but do you imagine they are not there because the husbands are sober?
    If i wanted to defend Alcohol i could list all the moneys that flow to society from it which i am sure are as impressive as the figures quoted above of its costs.

    The point is that Alcohol has been with us for so long that it is part of what makes us human, {certainly Celtic human}. The word “Honeymoon” is said to come from the tradition of giving mead to the newlyweds. Alcohol and sport, are in fact working against each other in a simplistic binary logic sort of reasoning. You are right to say that the sports clubs are thinking about the next 5 years and alcohol has consequences for the next 20 or a lot longer. But with only the fanaticism of unrestrained sport do you imagine we will all have happier lives? Is a long life a happy one anyway? Is a life lived with the shape of body thought fashionable with the administration of growth hormone or anabolic steroids a good one?

    Better to look at ways of making happier drunks than no drunks in my view. Of course if you have so much alcohol that you can’t function, that is a problem, but i once heard of a fellow who died from carrot juice addiction! If that were more common, we would have no problem with the logic of working with the dysfunction-ally carrot juice addicted, as apposed to banning all carrot juice advertising!

    I will die before many, probably in large part because my Alcohol intake is not what those “fractionating scientists” before mentioned, will say is healthy. Trouble is humanity is killing itself {and taking a lot of other species with us}! Sure we have always had a priestly class that has ever told us “the end is nigh”, but this time its the scientists who are not only saying it, they are showing us the readouts of it happening before our very eyes! Don’t get me wrong, i still ,{and possibly always will fight against it}, but i don’t think any real hope exists and I like getting drunk so i can be as relaxed about it as our leaders .
    may goodness be at you. is mise mehull

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