Alcohol chiefs defend sports sponsorship activity

Alcohol chiefs have defended their sponsorship of sports events, claiming that brands have played a important role in the development of grassroots sports across the UK.

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The remarks from the alcohol industry bodies Portman Group and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) were made to MPs during the latest stage of the Health Committee’s inquiry into the government’s alcohol strategy earlier today (22 May).

Speaking about the effects of marketing on alcohol consumption, in particular in relation to children and young people, Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group said that sponsoring grassroots sporting activity in the UK is a “valuable” platform for drinks brands communicating responsibility messages to consumers.

In response to questions on whether such activity would convince children that alcohol was related to sporting prowess, Ashworth moved to assure the committee’s members that the industry body was currently reviewing advertising codes of practice to prevent this because it is not in our interest to market to people “who can not legally buy our products.”

An update on the review is expected in the next few months.

Simmonds said: “I would say that some young people go through phases of drinking the brand of the team they support, however its only a phase and I don’t think there’s enough evidence out there to say that drinks brands sponsoring actually changes consumption.”

The comments follow calls from the government for pubs and drinks producers to implement more innovative solutions to promote responsible drinking. As part of its alcohol strategy, which was outlined earlier this year, the government revealed several measures to look at the regulation of alcohol marketing.

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