Portman Group rebuts link between alcohol sports sponsorship and risky drinking

A report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies which claims that the sponsorship of sports by alcoholic drinks is “putting our children and athletes at risk” has been rebutted by the Portman Group.

The report reviewed seven studies related to the issue and found that all of them pointed to an association between exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship and dangerous levels of alcohol consumption.

Katherine Brown, director of the IAS, said: "It is of great concern to see that sport, which should be viewed as a healthy, family friendly activity, is potentially putting our children and athletes at risk due to sponsorship deals with alcohol companies.

"Major alcohol brands are prominent in almost every high profile sporting event today, exposing millions of children to advertising and building positive associations that could be damaging in the long-term."

The IAS is primarily funded by the Alliance House Foundation, the stated aims of which are, "To spread the principles of total abstinence from alcoholic drinks.”

The foundation was previously known as The UK Alliance For The Suppression Of The Traffic In All Intoxicating Liquors.

In response to the IAS’s report, Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “As the UK's leading temperance campaigners, it is unsurprising that the IAS consistently ignore the official statistics which show significant and sustained declines in underage drinking during the last decade.

“This is about teaching responsible behaviour and supporting our young people as they progress to adulthood, not banning everything in sight."

Alcohol sponsorship in the UK is regulated by the Portman Group’s code of practice which is specifically designed to protect children from alcohol marketing and sponsorship.

The Code also requires drinks manufacturers to promote responsible drinking as part of any sports-related sponsorship agreements.

According to data from the NHS, the number of children aged 11-to-15 drinking alcohol in the UK has fallen by 36% since 2003, while alcohol-related hospital admissions among under-18s has fallen 41% since 2010.

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