Health experts have called for a ban on the sports marketing of alcohol following a lack of warning in adverts during Scottish rugby matches.
This follows new research that found all industry adverts during the matches came without a ‘drink responsibly’ warning.
The request, which was made by the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), comes ahead of the Scottish government’s consultation on alcohol sponsorship next year.
SHAAP highlighted that around 30 million children, from across the six nations taking part in the 2020 Six Nations tournament – Scotland, England, France, Ireland, Wales and Italy – saw the alcohol advertising campaigns.
The demand comes despite Guinness, the renowned stout brand, being the official beer of the tournament, as well as to Scottish Rugby, along with Tennent’s Lager and Johnnie Walker whisky.
During the 2020 Six Nations, researchers from the University of Stirling recorded 961 references to alcohol during a Scotland and England match and 754 during an Ireland and Wales game.
At present, there are no restrictions on alcohol sports sponsorships in the UK, with alcohol campaigns regulated by the industry itself.
However, the self-regulation code states that “drinks companies must ensure there is a recognisable commitment to promoting responsible drinking”, as well as “ensure that at least 75 per cent [of the audience] are aged over 18.”
Despite this, only 3.5 per cent of alcohol adverts promoted this message during the Ireland and Scotland game and 1.4 per cent in the Scotland and England match.
SHAAP said these results have raised “serious questions about how effective self-regulatory codes are.”
Elinor Jayne, director of SHAAP, added: “As a society, we are used to alcohol companies sponsoring sports, yet it is totally incongruous to have this intrinsically health-harming product associated with a healthy activity.
"The alcohol industry’s involvement in sports sponsorship has been shown to increase the chances of today’s children being harmed by alcohol in the future, which means this sponsorship is working as intended: the alcohol industry needs to recruit future consumers.”
Staring this November, the ban on alcohol advertising at sports events or children’s events will take effect in the Republic of Ireland.