By Andrew Starke

The Australian Greens have called for a levy on junk food and alcohol advertising similar to the levy which has applied in France since 2004.

Launching the policy with Victorian Greens Senate candidate, Dr Richard di Natale in Melbourne earlier this week, Greens leader Bob Brown said advertisers could choose the option of including health information in their advertising or pay the levy.

"This type of levy has been working in France since 2004,” he said. “Australia should not allow junk food and alcohol companies to make billions at the expense of the health and well being of Australians.”

Brown said the alcohol industry spends $109 million on advertising per year while fast food companies are among the top 50 advertisers in Australia, spending around $165 million on advertising per year.

“At the same time the costs to individuals and the community as a result of consumption, in terms of health effects, social costs and lost productivity, of these products is enormous,” Dr Di Natale said. “Alcohol use in Australia costs $15.3 billion and obesity costs are estimated to be around $58.2 billion.”

The Greens claim a levy could potentially raise around $4 million in revenue.

In France, alcohol advertisements can show only the image of the product, but not drinkers, no television or cinema advertising is permitted, and alcohol brands cannot sponsor sporting events.

VicHealth welcomed the bid to introduce a mandatory levy on alcohol and junk food advertising.

“A levy on junk food and alcohol advertising would shift the focus away from products that are harmful for health and put the spotlight on the promotion of healthier products,” VicHealth CEO, Todd Harper, said.

The proposed legislation would:

  • Introduce a requirement to include health information on alcohol and junk food advertising (the standards and nature of the health information to be determined by a National Preventive Health Agency);
  • Provide advertisers with an option to pay a 1.5% levy on alcohol and junk food advertising rather than include the information themselves;
  • Create a Health Promotion Advertising Fund to allocate the funds for health information and to replace alcohol or junk food sponsorship in community sports clubs.

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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