Recent changes to the legal drinking age have drawn attention to the problems associated with alcohol abuse. However, it is apparent that the problem is not specifically a ‘youth’ problem, but reflective of a widespread culture of binge drinking in New Zealand. Research shows that the proportion of under 18-year olds drinking has not changed as a result of lowering the age limit, but those who do drink, do so more often and they drink more.
The aggressive promotion of alcohol features strongly in New Zealand society. This cannot help but exacerbate the problems of alcohol abuse. In 1992 alcohol brand advertising was introduced into broadcast media, leading to a 42% increase in advertising expenditure and a fourfold increase in televised alcohol advertising in the first three years. By 1998 there was approximately $52 million worth of alcohol sponsorship and advertising on television and radio and in newspapers and magazines. The money spent on health promotion messages is a fraction of that.
As a result, the primary source of information for most people about alcohol and how to use it comes from alcohol advertising. Alcohol advertising on broadcast media is characterised by the association of alcohol brands with desired lifestyle images. The message coming from that is that, if you want to have what it takes, you have to be able to take your drink.
This bill seeks to address the problems associated with this kind of advertising by regulating the marketing, advertising, and promotion of alcohol products through the broadcast media.
Clause by clause analysis
Clause 1 relates to the title of the Bill.
Clause 2 provides that the Bill comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
Clause 3 sets out the purpose of the Bill.
Clause 4 sets out definitions for broadcast, liquor and liquor advertisement.
Clause 5 provides that, subject to the exceptions in this Act, no person can broadcast, or arrange for any other person to broadcast, any liquor advertisement in New Zealand.
Clause 6 sets out the exceptions to section 5. Section 5 does not apply to any broadcast originating outside New Zealand or any film made outside New Zealand unless its main purpose is to promote the use of liquor products; the film or video recording is intended for sale, distribution, or exhibition mainly in New Zealand; or the film or video recording is targeted primarily at a New Zealand audience. Section 5 does not apply to the dissemination, broadcasting, or exhibition of any film, video recording, or sound recording if it was made before the date on which this Act comes into force and the liquor advertisement is in the form, or a reference to, or depiction of a liquor product trademark that is only an incidental part of that film, video recording, or sound recording.
Clause 7 sets out that any person who, without reasonable excuse, broadcasts any advertisement for a liquor product in contravention of section 5 commits an offence and is liable to a fine of up to $50,000 in the case of a manufacturer, importer, or distributor, or a fine of up to $10,000 in any other case.
Clause 8 states the Director-General is responsible for enforcing the provisions of this Act. Prosecution for an offence against this Act may only be commenced on the information of the Director-General or some other person authorised for that purpose by the Director-General. Any information relating to an offence against this Act may be laid at any time within one year after the time when the matter of the information arose.
Clause 9 provides that the enactments specified in the Schedule are to be amended as indicated in that schedule.