I’m not a fan of sports teams which promote alcohol, and it’s not just because my younger brother died in a drink-driving car accident, aged 23.
It’s because I view it as unsporting and un-Australian for sport to be used to promote a product which reduces sport performance, kills sportspeople among other Australians, and which is and was completely rejected by many of the most successful sports people, such as Don Bradman.
Alcohol has been called a complex problem, but alcohol harm could be reduced with simple measures such as banning alcohol advertising, in the same way that the ban on tobacco advertising has greatly reduced tobacco harms.
There is more reason to ban alcohol ads than to ban tobacco ads. Alcohol does far more damage than any other drug and more damage to others than to drinkers themselves. This includes through increased family, domestic and other violence; child abuse; road accidents and harm to unborn babies exposed to alcohol. Both moderate drinking and moderate smoking have a range of adverse health impacts.
In fact, alcohol has killed more Australians than all wars combined.
It is wrongly said that alcohol is a major part of Australian culture – it is merely a major part of the lives of a minority of Australians. It is clearly not specifically Australian, being consumed in many other countries.
And the facts are that the majority of Australians either don’t drink at all (22% are in this category); drink moderately and do not view alcohol as a significant part of their lives, or overtly pressure others to drink; or only drink because others do and they want to “fit in”.
The vast majority of the drinking, 75%, is done by only 20% of the population.
Most Australians think Australia has an alcohol problem and that more should be done to address it. Those who don’t want to wait for an ad ban can act themselves by not drinking alcohol.
I don’t drink because I want to make it easier for others not to. At university I was part of a cricket team and one day another team member said to me “Everyone else on the team is drinking a lot of beer, I don’t want to, but it’s hard not to, I’ve noticed that you never seem to have any trouble saying no, how do you do it?”
Had I been a moderate drinker my team mate may not have sought my advice – I might have seemed to be just another drinker.
I also don’t drink because study after study confirms that alcohol contributes to a large proportion of domestic and other violence, as recognized by the World Health Organisation.
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