The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has released a 60-page report in conjunction with its National Summit on Alcohol Marketing to Young People that accuses industry of targeting children with new media tactics as well as alcohol-flavored food and cosmetic products. Urging “more robust policy and stronger regulatory oversight,” the report aims to document current alcohol advertising tactics in Australia, examine the impact of these tactics on drinking patterns, and make a case for regulatory and statutory reform.

In particular, the report claims that “the introduction of digital technologies has opened up new platforms for marketing and promotion, with alcohol companies aggressively harnessing the marketing potential of online video channels, mobile phones, interactive games, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.” It also argues that alcohol-flavored foods and cosmetics, such as vodka-flavored lip gloss, not only “circumvent most existing regulations regarding marketing and the placement of alcoholic products” but introduce young consumers to alcohol brands at an early age, “encouraging them to develop familiarity with, and loyalty to, their product.”

As a result, AMA has urged policy makers to take the following steps: (i) regulate alcohol marketing and promotion “independent of the alcohol and advertising industries”; (ii) impose “meaningful sanctions for serious or persistent non-compliance with marketing regulations”; (iii) phase out the sponsorship of sporting events by alcohol companies and brands”; (iv) prohibit sponsorship by alcohol companies and brands “at youth, cultural and musical events”; (v) enact regulations “to limit the volume or amount of alcohol marketing, as well as its content”; (vi) expand regulations “to incorporate point-of-sale promotions, branded merchandise, and new media and digital marketing, including marketing through social media, viral campaigns, mobile phones, and the use of data collection and behavioral profiling”; (vii) require alcohol companies to publicly disclose the amount spent annually on marketing, “including expenditures on social media, online video, mobile campaigns, events sponsorship and product placement”; (viii) continue research “into the extent and impact of online and digital marketing, and the effectiveness of different regulatory approaches to this form of marketing”; (ix) work with international bodies such as the World Health Organization to develop “a cross-border, international response to alcohol marketing,” and (x) revamp health education messages to build “the critical media literacy of young people.” See AMA Press Release, September 19, 2012.