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Researcher calls for ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport due to impact on kids

New Zealand children are being exposed to alcohol marketing 4.5 times a day on average, a new study by the University of Otago has revealed.

University of Otago researcher Tim Chambers spoke to TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning about how alcohol sponsorship, especially in sport, is causing harmful behaviours later in life.

"We had a unique opportunity to see exactly what New Zealand children were seeing," Mr Chambers said.

In the study, kids were fitted with cameras which took photos every seven seconds of the scene around them.

Mr Chambers said the children were often seeing alcohol marketing "everywhere, but the major places that they were seeing it were in the home, at alcohol outlets and also at sports venues".

He said research shows that children exposed to alcohol marketing will lead to them drinking or more harmful drinking.

"There's now quite a large body of evidence that shows that if a child is exposed to alcohol marketing as a child, they're more likely to start drinking earlier; they're more likely to drink more if they're already drinking; and they're more likely to suffer from alcohol-related harms as an adult."

Mr Chambers said one of the major players in alcohol advertising was sports sponsorships.

"We found that sports sponsorships [are] actually the main mechanism by which children had been exposed to alcohol marketing.

"We would like to see a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport, and we could actually do so at very little cost to both to government and to sport."

He said there's "a misconception that they [sports teams] do receive a lot of money".

"We could actually replace all of alcohol sponsorship in sport in New Zealand by increasing the price by about three cents per beer."

Mr Chambers said the study showed that the banning of alcohol marketing would be supported by the majority of parents.

"I think that the politicians really need to listen to the public on this issue."

Otago university researcher Tim Chambers spoke to Breakfast about how alcohol sponsorship in sport is making kids more likely to drink. Source: Breakfast