Auckland's Denizen magazine removes 'wine pong' post expert says could encourage women to binge drink

An Auckland magazine has removed an online post promoting a drinking game which Alcohol Healthwatch says could encourage excessive drinking among women.

The Denizen - an Auckland-based online magazine with a combined online following on Facebook and Instagram of more than 163,000 - published a post on January 4 about "prosecco pong".

"Saluti! Prosecco Pong is usurping Beer Pong as the drinking game of choice," the post was titled.

"Beer pong's slightly classier and more feminine counterpart has arrived.

"Compelling us to partake in a few competitive rounds of the flirty and frivolous drinking over the silly season, Prosecco Pong adheres to much the same rules but employs coupes instead of the iconic red solo cups and Italian bubbly in lieu of beer."

The post also contained a link to a UK retailer where sets of glasses and ping pong balls could be purchased to play the game.

A typical setup during a game of beer pong
A typical setup during a game of beer pong. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Beer pong is a drinking game where six cups are arranged at either end of a table and filled with beer, before opponents try to throw or bounce a ping pong ball into one of their opponent's cups.

When a ball is sunk, the owner must consume the contents of the vessel on the spot before the game continues.

The beer consumed, with a typical alcohol content of 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent, could account for 1-2 standard drinks in a game, but prosecco wine typically carries an alcohol content of 11.5 per cent or more.

Chief executive of Alcohol Healthwatch, Dr Nicki Jackson, said the posts were "not responsible" and could be encouraging more women to binge drink.

"Given that women's drinking has been increasing every year - women are drinking more than ever - this is absolutely going in the wrong direction," Dr Jackson said.

Women's drinking is a huge problem in this country ... it's not pleasing to see. - Alcohol Healthwatch CEO Dr Nicki Jackson

"It's 11 per cent alcohol - there's a likelihood that women who participate in this game will totally exceed the New Zealand guidelines [for alcohol consumption] and put themselves at both short and long term health risk.

"It's not responsible - it could also be seen to encourage excessive consumption, which is against our laws."

In regards to breaching the law, a police spokesperson said "Police do not support advertising or promotion of drinking games", but concluded that the post "would not meet the Solicitor General's guidelines for Police to investigate this matter".

Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority Hilary Souter said she was not able to comment on whether the post had breached any of their principles, which include specific clauses around social responsibility when promoting alcohol, "as this could prejudice complaints we may receive about it".

Ms Souter said a similar post by deal site in 2014 advertising a drinking game led to a successful complaint around adherence to the the ASA's principles.

Publisher and editor-in-chief of The Denizen Claire Sullivan told 1 NEWS The Denizen was not paid by the linked website to have the item published, but that it was "merely something that was deemed of interest by one of our (very) junior writers".

"You could call it moralistic slip-up over a time period when myself and the senior editors have been on holiday and not reviewing all content," Ms Sullivan said.

"Obviously this has raised some flags from my perspective as to our need to monitor ALL content for appropriateness before it is posted.

"I have removed the post and explained in detail to the writer in question the reasoning for doing such."

A screenshot of the Denizen website featuring an item promoting the wine pong drinking game
A screenshot of the Denizen website featuring an item promoting the wine pong drinking game.