Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship

As part of its work to reduce alcohol-related harm, the Government established the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship.

The purpose of the Forum was to consider whether further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship are needed to reduce alcohol-related harm. The Forum was established in February 2014. It reported to the Minister of Justice and the Associate Minister of Health in October 2014. The Forum report was published in December 2014:

Read more about the Terms of Reference (docx, 28KB)  and panel members.

Submissions to the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship

The Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship sought submissions from affected stakeholders, experts on advertising, sponsorship, alcohol and health, and the public. It was looking for new evidence, information and expert advice that has emerged since 2010. Submissions closed on 28 April 2014

Some 242 submissions were made to the Forum.

The Ministry of Health has released a full summary of submissions.


In 2010, the Law Commission presented its report Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm recommending a three stage programme of advertising interventions which would be in place within five years -

  • Stage 1: Immediate implementation of a new offence relating to the irresponsible promotion of supply and consumption of alcohol (replacing the then existing offence under section 154A of the Sale of Liquor Act). It would become an offence to:
    • In the course of carrying on a business, encourage the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol, whether on licensed premises or at any other place;
    • Promote or advertise alcohol in a manner that has special appeal to people under the age of 20;
    • Promote or advertise alcohol, except in store or on premises, in a manner that leads the public to believe the price is 25% or more below the price at which the alcohol is ordinarily sold;
    • Promote alcohol that is free; or
    • Offer any goods or services on the condition that alcohol is purchased;
  • Stage 2: Introduction of legislative measures aimed at reducing exposure to advertising, particularly for young people;
  • Stage 3: Introduction of measures that aim to restrict the promotion of alcohol, including sponsorship, in all media.  Under these measures no alcohol advertising would be allowed in any media other than advertising that communicates objective product information including the characteristics of the beverage, the manner of its production and price.

Section 237 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012  implements the Stage 1 recommendations.

With the exception of these new provisions limiting promotions, the recent reform process did not include further measures to address alcohol advertising and sponsorship.  The following constraints were identified:

  • Changing technologies – it was noted that regulating alcohol advertising is difficult and its effect uncertain, particularly because alcohol advertising is a rapidly-growing area with new technologies and marketing techniques providing new opportunities to influence purchase and consumption behaviour. Restrictions, may, therefore, be easily circumvented.
  • Potential economic and community consequences – controls on alcohol sponsorship would likely have significant economic and community consequences.
  • The critique of the evidence base - although new research was emerging which linked the advertising of alcohol and increased consumption, particularly by young people, past research had been equivocal on the effect of advertising on consumption.

Instead the proposed approach at that time was to monitor the research around alcohol advertising and sponsorship and to periodically undertake further reviews.

Why has the Forum been established?

During the alcohol law reform process in 2010/11, over 7000 submitters (form and substantive) to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee made some comment on alcohol advertising and/or sponsorship. The vast majority were in favour of greater restrictions on advertising, and most were also in favour of a ban on sponsorship.  The form submissions did not distinguish between advertising and sponsorship.

As part of its ongoing monitoring and in recognition of the large number of submissions commenting on alcohol advertising and sponsorship issues, Government agreed to establish a forum to examine whether further alcohol advertising and sponsorship restrictions are necessary, and if so, ensure that any recommended changes are in line with the object of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The object of the Act is to promote the responsible sale, supply and consumption of alcohol, and to minimise alcohol-related harm.

The scope of the Forum’s work

When assessing whether further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship are needed, the Forum will focus on new evidence, information and expert advice that has emerged since 2010.

The views expressed during the alcohol law reform select committee process provide a platform for the Forum’s current work and will be taken into account.

However, the Forum sought to understand what new evidence had come to light since that earlier work was completed, and what had changed (this may relate to the regulatory and/or operational environment) and may need attention now.

The scope of the Forum’s work in considering further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship includes models of regulation and restriction – from voluntary through to regulatory measures.

The following areas were specifically excluded from the scope of the Forum:

  • labelling requirements for alcohol products – labelling regulations are addressed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand
  • restrictions on the sale and supply of alcohol products - the Forum’s work relates to the impact of advertising and sponsorship, not sale and supply issues such as local licensing issues or trading hours
  • the effectiveness of counter-advertising (advertising that is used to counter the effects that alcohol advertising may have on alcohol consumption and related harm).

Members of the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising & Sponsorship

Graham Lowe (Chair) - businessman and former rugby league coach and administrator.

Professor Max Abbott - Dean, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences - AUT University, former Mental Health Commissioner, expert in the field of addiction and alcohol-related harm.

Sandra Alofivae - lawyer and district health board member who works in the Auckland Alcohol and Drug Pilot Court.

Dr Farah Palmer - academic and former Black Ferns captain, who is currently a director on the NZRU Māori Rugby Board.

Tuari Potiki - director of Māori Development at the University of Otago, and the current chair of the NZ Drug Foundation.

Hilary Souter - chief executive since 2005 of the Advertising Standards Authority.

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