Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Sport alcohol sponsorship warning

Alcohol sponsorship of sport will be seen as a crazy idea in 15 years, a public health specialist has warned

Alcohol sponsorship of sport will be seen as a crazy idea in 15 years, a public health specialist has warned.

As doctors warned that the number of young and middle aged people with alcohol-related illness has doubled since the late1990s, Professor Joe Barry said a ban was inevitable.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) issued 25 recommendations to combat the growing disease problem including an end to supermarkets selling wine, beer and spirits below cost.

They also want the Government to stop issuing new licences for the off-trade, and fewer off-licences.

"In 15 years time it will be seen as crazy to have allowed alcohol sponsorship of sport, in the same way as tobacco," Prof Barry said.

"I don't know how long it will take but it is being put up to the drinks companies now. I think at the moment because the economy is on its uppers it would be difficult but later there will be plenty of telecoms companies and the like very keen to get market share."

The RCPI's new policy group on alcohol also called for punitive fines for shopkeepers found selling alcohol to underage drinkers.

Its report highlighted the health impacts, with alcoholic liver disease increasing by 247% for 15-34-year-olds, and by 224% for 35-49-year-olds between 1995 and 2007. It also said that about 5% of newly diagnosed cancers and cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol - about 900 cases and 500 deaths a year.

The issue of sports sponsorship and advertising by alcohol companies is being examined by an Oireachtas committee.

It was told last month that the sponsorship is worth nine million euro to the Irish Rugby Football Union, "a significant portion" of the Football Association of Ireland's total 6m euro sponsorship stream and a small amount of Gaelic Athletic Association revenue.

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