Price-based promotions of alcohol: Legislative consistencies and inconsistencies across the Australian retail, entertainment and media sectors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Drug Policy, 2015, 26 (5), pp. 522 - 530
Issue Date:
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Background: Excessive alcohol consumption is a major public health issue internationally, with alcohol consumption being recognised as a leading cause of preventable illness and major social burden. To help ameliorate the risks and harms associated with alcohol consumption, all levels of governments have explored various legislative and regulatory provisions to support responsible alcohol consumption, service and promotion. Methods: In this article, using Australia as a case study, the legislative environment around responsible alcohol promotion and consumption across the Australian retail, entertainment and media sectors will be explored, with a focus on pricing and volume-based discounts. Results: Whilst the potential harm and effect of both the licensed and non-licensed sectors appears to be widely acknowledged as similar in both scope and size of effect, legislative protections overwhelmingly focus solely on reducing the risks associated with alcohol consumption in licensed premises. This article explores the legislative provisions around preventing excessive alcohol consumption through promotional and marketing activities, and notes that whilst the licensed premises sector is facing increasing legislative restrictions, the off-premises sector remains unregulated and in some cases has even had existing restrictions removed, despite forming an increasing part of the alcohol chain in Australia. Conclusion: There appear to be inconsistencies and regulatory gaps in relation to price-based and volume-based discount alcohol promotions. Regulatory loopholes allow the retail sector in particular to use discounted alcohol as a promotional tool, in a way that is inconsistent with the goals of public health alcohol legislation, and in a way which would be illegal in any other sector. There appears to be a compelling case for introducing new restrictions, or extending existing restrictions, on these forms of promotion across all sectors involved in alcohol promotion, and there is considerable evidence that there would be considerable public health benefit from doing so.
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