Ease up on the drink, aimed at mates.

Drinkers’ mates targeted in new campaign

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A new alcohol awareness campaign, urging Kiwis to tell their mates if they have a drinking problem, targets the country’s sporting drinking culture.

The Alcohol Advisory Council’s ‘Ease up on the drink’ campaign is the follow-up to its hard-hitting ‘How we’re drinking’ adverts, which featured graphic images of Kiwis injuring and putting themselves at risk because of their heavy drinking.

Launched last night, the first of three new television commercials is based in a rugby clubroom where a fellow player talks to his friend “Sam” about dealing with his excessive drinking.

Alac says while the first ad is set in sporting environment, it is not the only setting being targeted. Two other ads will follow – one set in a workplace and the other at home.

The ad comes as Police, Alac and Sport Canterbury conclude a South Island pilot programme called ‘Say Now’ designed to make young sportspeople aware of the damage from alcohol abuse.

A 2004 academic study, co-authored by former All Black Josh Blackie, showed sportspeople drank more than non-sportspeople, and the higher the level of sport, the more hazardous the drinking.

Alac chief executive Officer Gerard Vaughan said while its graphic ‘How we’re drinking’ ad campaign had been hugely successful it did not educate people on how to intervene in drinking-related problems.

He said Alac’s surveys showed that 21 percent of adult drinkers said they had started drinking less since the in-your-face drinking campaign was launched. The ads also generated an 11 percent increase in calls through the Alcohol Drug Helpline in the last year.

“But what they also created was enormous discussion on what you should do for someone who is drinking too much. People said to us ‘Why didn’t someone do something or say something?'”

Mr Vaughan said the new ads showed “how, why and when” to have the conversation. All the conversations take place after a drinking session, rather than at the time a person is drunk.

To complement the advertisements, tips and information are provided on a website to remind people of the range of things they can do to manage the use of alcohol, he said.

Meanwhile, the joint “Say Now” alcohol awareness project, endorsed by NZ Police and delivered through North Canterbury sports clubs over the last few weeks, would conclude today following “a very positive turn out to the sessions and feedback from attendees”, a statement said.

“As we have said all along, this is not about pointing the finger at sports clubs and saying they have a drinking problem, it is about educating clubs and their members about the role that sports and sports clubs can play in helping curb the drinking culture in New Zealand”, Sport Canterbury’s Project Manager, Jonny Kirkpatrick said.

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He said clubs were in an ideal position to capture key target groups and potentially had the structures in place to positively influence behaviour.

For more information on the Alac campaign, call 0800 787 797 or log on to http://www.hadenough.org.nz

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