Open letter regarding sponsorship of the GB Olympic team by alcohol brand

Posted on: 8th August 2016

The Trust joins with other charities and health bodies in raising concern at the sponsorship of Team GB at the Olympics by an alcohol brand. The open letter was published in the Guardian and also received an editorial in the main paper here 

As medical bodies and charities who support children and young people through sport, we are writing to express our concern that Strongbow is an official partner of Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Our children and young people look to our Team GB athletes as role models and heroes. They are right to do this – we should be proud as a nation of our athletes, who represent a fine example of what one can achieve through hard work and dedication. Yet this also means that Team GB, as an organisation, has a responsibility to consider what messages it is sending to our children and young people.

By partnering with an alcoholic drinks company, the message received by our children and young people will be that sport and alcohol go hand in hand. We are concerned that children will be encouraged to drink as a result.

 There is strong evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads young people to drink at an earlier age. A study of school children aged 13-14 from four EU countries found exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship through viewing a major football tournament was linked to a 70% increased chance of underage drinking. We know from the research that exposure to alcohol messages increases the likelihood that non-drinking young people will start to drink, and increases the likelihood that existing young drinkers will drink more alcohol, and in a more risky fashion. This exposure also leads to more positive beliefs among young people about alcohol.

The later we can delay the uptake of drinking among young people, the better. We know that the younger people start to drink, the more chance there is that they will become dependent drinkers, with all the harm that causes to individuals, their families and society.

This is why it is crucial that Team GB does not do anything that may promote the idea of drinking to young people. We urge Team GB to make a commitment that, for future events, it will not partner with the alcohol industry.

Sir Ian Gilmore Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance
Andrew Langford Chief Executive, British Liver Trust
Matt Stevenson-Dodd Chief Executive, Street League
Katherine Brown Director, Institute of Alcohol Studies
Joanna Simons CBE Chief Executive, Alcohol Concern
Colin Shevills Director, Balance
Shirley Cramer CBE Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health
Alison Douglas Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
Sarah Toule Head of health information, World Cancer Research Fund
Eric Carlin Director, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
Modi Mwatsama Director of policy and public health, UK Health Forum
Linda Harris CEO, Spectrum Community Health CIC, medical director substance misuse and associated health, RCGP
Dr Clifford Mann President, Royal College of Emergency Medicine
Prof Frank Murray President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Andrea Crossfield Chief Executive, Healthier Futures
Professor Jonathan Shepherd CBE Director, Violence Research Group
Kate Knight Public Health Action
Professor Graeme Alexander British Association for the Study of the Liver
Kieran Moriarty British Society of Gastroenterology
Linda Bauld UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies