Republic could ban drinks sponsorship of sports events

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Drinks firms will no longer be able to sponsor sports events, concerts or festivals in the Irish Republic, if recommendations in a report are adopted.

The National Substance Misuse Strategy has recommended that drinks industry sponsorship of sport and other large events be phased out by 2016.

It supports legislation for minimum alcohol pricing.

It also calls for a "social responsibility" levy on the industry.

Another proposal is a 21:00 GMT watershed for alcohol advertising on television and radio.

Fiona Ryan, is chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, which is a member of the strategy's steering group.

She said sports sponsorship was "very lucrative" for the alcohol industry and gave them access to the young male market.

Ms Ryan said alcohol was as much a threat to people's health as tobacco and that one thirteenth of the country's health budget was being spent on alcohol related illness.

Drinking guidelines

"2,000 hospital beds a night are in terms of alcohol related causes, one in 11 kids tell us they are impacted by parental drinking, one in seven kids are in care because of parental drinking," she said.

"Those figures are probaly an under-estimation and would compare quite literally with Northern Irish figures.

"We need to reduce alcohol consumption in the Republic of Ireland."

She added that the recommendations would be subject to a parliamentary debate.

Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing and sponsorship at the agency Brand Rapport, said sports sponsorship by drinks companies was "invaluable" in the current economic climate.

"It is a very high-profile industry and a very easy target to say let's ban sports sponsorship by alcohol companies, but all they are doing is to try and get their brand recognised," he added.

"If you take it out of the equation people are not going to drink less, they are just going to have more of a problem deciding what they are going to drink."

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