Queensland captain Cameron Smith pose for photographs during the State of Origin series launch at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith pose for photographs during the State of Origin series launch at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins. DEAN LEWINS

CQU expert backs call to cut alcohol out of State of Origin

WITH millions around Australia set to watch the NSW "VB" Blues take on the Queensland "XXXX" Maroons tomorrow night, there are concerns about the impact of alcohol marketing on children.

Last year, game two of the State of Origin series was the most watched television program in Australia, while games one and three were among the top five.

With strong evidence to suggest that children can correctly recall and match sporting teams with their sponsorship, a leading medical group is concerned about the impact of alcohol promotion on young viewers.

The view of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians is shared by CQuniveristy's Dr Louise Byrne, who specialises in the field of lived experience mental health.

BRIGHT FUTURE: CQUniversity academic Louise Byrne educates the next generation of mental health nurses.
BRIGHT FUTURE: CQUniversity academic Louise Byrne educates the next generation of mental health nurses. Photo By Peter Lawrence

Dr Byrne said many youngsters idolised their State of Origin heroes.

She said children soaked up what they saw and would pick up on the association between the football culture and drinking.

"It's funny the things children pick up on," Dr Byrne said.

She said alcohol company sponsorship and saturation of television advertising during the game was at odds with sport, which was a health-based activity.

Alcohol often played a part in people suffering from mental and physical health issues.

Sport telecasts are the only programs allowed to actively promote alcohol products before 8.30pm.

Primarily due to this loophole, it is estimated that children aged under 18 years are exposed to a more than 50 million alcohol advertisements during live sport each year.

RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said it was concerning that young, impressionable children and adolescents were exposed to alcohol marketing while they watched their favourite players and teams compete.

"In terms of broadcast numbers, State of Origin is Australia's biggest television event of the year, so it is disappointing that the three games will again be dominated by alcohol sponsorship and advertising," Dr Yelland said.

"I find it very difficult to reconcile that an event which captivates interest among young children, and dominates schoolyard discussion, is flooded by the branding of a product that is detrimental to their health."

Dr Byrne said she thought it "a great idea" to have the advertising regulations changed to stop the promotion of alcohol advertising whenever children were watching an event.

"It would be useful not to have them on," she said. She said the removal of cigarette advertising showed it could be achieved.



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