Otago University bans alcohol ads, sponsorship

18:29, Oct 13 2009

Otago University has banned alcohol advertising and sponsorship from its events, following drunken behaviour at the institution's orientation event.

The ban was made yesterday, with the university council endorsing a recommendation made by vice-chancellor Professor Sir David Skegg, the Otago Daily Times reported.

The ban, believed to be the first of its type in New Zealand, took effect immediately.

Professor Skegg said the move was a step towards addressing the "grim and chronic national problem" of binge drinking.

"These facts about the wider environment need to be acknowledged by critics who demand that the University of Otago should instantly solve its student behaviour problems.

"Our problems cannot be solved until the culture of binge drinking among New Zealand youth is radically altered," he said. Otago University Student's Association president Edwin Darlow and immediate past-president Simon Wilson, who were both members of the university council, abstained from the voting yesterday.

However, both said they agreed with the intent of the ban.

Mr Darlow abstained due to the association's current sponsorship deal with Speights, the newspaper reported.

Mr Wilson said he was abstaining because he did not yet know enough about how the ban would affect existing alcohol company sponsorship or supply contracts.

The ban was made on the same day as the Ministry of Health released a study of drinking habits of New Zealanders, finding young people experienced higher levels of harm from alcohol and were more likely to binge drink.

The 7000-person survey, for the years 2007 and 2008 , found 18-to-24-year-olds were likely to drink large amounts, of more than six standard drinks for men or more than four for women on one occasion.

Ministry director of public health Mark Jacobs said 85 percent of all respondents had drunk alcohol in the past year and while many drank in moderation, it was common to drink large amounts on "drinking occasions".