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Alcohol marketing is the subject of several letters published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

One is on behalf of the board of the Health Coalition Aotearoa, calling for more regulation in this area.

The Advertising Standards Authority, a group representing the interests of advertisers, publishers, broadcasters and alcohol producers, has called for submissions on its voluntary code on alcohol advertising and promotion. The Health Coalition Aotearoa is concerned the voluntary code does not prevent the impact of alcohol marketing on young people, is boycotting the review and calling on the Government to regulate alcohol marketing and sponsorship in New Zealand.

A number of organisations, including Consumer NZ, Alcohol Action NZ, Child Poverty Action Group, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Toi Tangata, Paediatric Society of New Zealand and many health academics and District Health Board staff have signed up to the letter. Submissions to the review close on August 23.

“We cannot continue to rely on a voluntary code which does not address the ways in which marketing resonates with young people and is administered by the vested interests. It’s a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop if ever there was one,” said Sally Casswell, speaking on behalf of the Health Coalition Aotearoa.

David Rāwiri Ratū, a Māori Warden who has been working with many communities on alcohol has also written in the NZMJ of the exposure of rangatahi in South Auckland to alcohol marketing on their journeys to and from school and also supports the boycott.

“We have concluded that making submissions to the current review of the voluntary code will not make an ounce of difference to Māori being exposed to alcohol advertising, such as signage plastered all over off licensed premises in the more pohara [poor] areas, where there is a predominantly high Māori population,” he says.

In addition to supporting the boycott, Mr Ratū is making the Government’s failure to act, the subject of a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

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