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An Irishman walked into a bar ... Ireland ends alcohol sponsorship in sports

Tuesday 22 May, 2012 by Emily

"Did you hear the news, the Irish have pipped the Aussies!" And we're not talking on the rugby field.

Last week the Irish Minister of State for Health committed to ending alcohol sponsorship of all sport as a public health measure. The Irish admit it's likely to be a lengthy process but nonetheless they join the UK and South Africa who are all making forward steps to phase out alcohol sponsorship in the sporting arena.

It's a move that make sense – alcohol, sport and health is a cocktail that doesn't mix well.

Here in Australia we are still propping up the bar, despite recommendations put forward by the National Preventative Health Taskforce in 2009 to phase out alcohol sponsorship.

So are we forgetting the scoreboard of our nation's health and wellbeing?

In Australia, the main causes of alcohol-related deaths are road trauma, cancer and alcoholic liver cirrhosis.  An estimated 5070 cases of cancer (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year, including one in five breast cancers. And around 813,072 Australians aged 15 years and older were hospitalised for alcohol-attributable injury and disease over the 10-year period 1995–96 to 2004–05.

The association between sport and alcohol in Australia is a close one and alcohol companies have long held a presence in the sponsorship and marketing field.  Not to mention that excessive drinking can be seen to be normalised by some professional athletes, who act as role models to young people.

It's time for Australia to stop watering down the issue and start kicking goals – not just on the field but in all areas from music events, festivals and cultural events.

If the home of Guinness can do it, why can't we?

C'mon Australia.

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