Monday, March 12, 2007

Australian sports warned against alcohol sponsors

Sponsorship of elite sports by beer and spirit brewers must be banned if Australia is to tackle its problem with alcohol, Professor Peter Baume, a former federal health minister, warned on the 30th anniversary of his landmark drug and alcohol inquiry which labelled Australia an intoxicated nation.

Prof Baume said much had changed since the influential 1977 report was handed down warning that legal and illicit drug problems were of "endemic proportions". Smoking rates have dropped, heroin deaths have declined and there has been "movement towards moderation" in alcohol consumption, he said.

"But there is still too much drinking," Prof Baume said during his retrospective address delivered in Sydney. "There is still too much sponsorship of elite sport by drug companies in the form of brewers, distillers and tobacco companies."

He said the major football codes in capital cities were still underwritten by beer companies, and other major events, like the Melbourne Cup, also had alcohol sponsorship. "They cannot claim ignorance now of the lethal effects of their products.Their behaviour is outrageous, both here and in the third world and represents bad corporate citizenship. And our society acquiesces and allows it to happen."

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