Grassroots sports no longer excuse for alcohol harm inaction

New evidence released today by Alcohol Healthwatch shows there’s never been a better time for Parliament to pass Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Bill.

“Alcohol sponsorship is not the lifeline for our grassroots teams that some politicians like to pretend it is,” says Swarbrick.  

The research shows that out of a total of 101 rugby teams across Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland only three had alcohol product branding on their kits. None of the 40 rugby league teams in Auckland had alcohol product branding of any sort. 

“The evidence is clear. Grassroots sports aren’t the ones profiting from big alcohol.  On top of that, the majority of New Zealanders support ending alcohol advertising and sponsorship at sports and community events attended by under 18 year olds.

“To date, the sports sector, advertising and alcohol industries have all been unable or unwilling to quantify the current value of alcohol sports advertising and sponsorship. Funny that, given they simultaneously want to hype up its importance to keeping grassroots sports running.

“Over the year that I’ve been working with Councils, health professionals and NGOs to get this Bill across the line, MPs from other parties have waved their hands about their apparent concerns for grassroots sports funding. That excuse doesn’t work anymore.

“After a year of erroneously arguing it would be too expensive to implement basic, long-recommended policy to stem the tide of billions of dollars of alcohol harm, I can imagine these same political actors will now turn around and say that if alcohol sponsorship is already declining, there’s no need to do anything about it.

“MPs cannot have it both ways on this issue. They either care about the health and wellbeing of their communities, or they continue to prioritise the profits of alcohol barons. Simple,” says Chlöe Swarbrick.