UK: Sport shirt ad ban gets industry support

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Alcohol companies in the UK have agreed to cease advertising on children's replica sports shirts.

Industry trade organisation The Portman Group confirmed today (4 June) that alcohol producers have agreed to pull their adverts from youngsters' sports shirts from 1 January. The decision follows a public consultation on the group's code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks. The updated code will be published on 19 June.

"Despite producers having only ever been interested in marketing their drinks to adults, some critics see children in replica kit as walking billboards for alcohol," said David Poley, the group's chief executive. "This side effect of sponsorship is set to end. Drinks companies are taking the lead even though this decision may lessen their commercial appeal as sponsors if clubs sell fewer shirts.

"We've noted some critics within the public health community have attacked this kind of advertising. As the binge drinking and underage drinking concerns have been heightened recently, we've decided it is time to stop (advertising alcohol on children's sports shirts).

"There is no evidence to link this marketing with under-age drinking," Poley added. "Even so, drinks companies are concerned about the negative perception caused by their logos appearing on children's shirts."

Among the teams sponsored by alcohol producers are Gloucestershire and Worcestershire cricket clubs, and Everton and Liverpool football clubs.

Although nine companies - representing 60% of the UK alcoholic drinks industry - are members of The Portman Group, this decision came about following consultation with 140 code signatories. "There was next to no opposition to the proposal within the industry," Poley noted.

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