The “Costa Rica Saludable” Coalition, made up of citizens whose interest is to defend the public health of all Costa Ricans, spoke out against the legalization of the advertising of alcoholic beverages in stadiums, gyms, and sports venues.
Dr. Javier Vindas, Psychologists, explains that the proposals underway in the Legislative Assembly ignore scientific criteria and evidence on this issue and that Costa Rica must remain in line with the best global strategies to protect Costa Ricans from the harm of alcohol consumption.
The World Health Organization’s “Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol” on the Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages states that: “Reducing the impact of marketing, especially among youth and adolescents, is an important goal if wants to curtail the harmful effects of alcohol”.
Alcohol is marketed through increasingly sophisticated advertising and promotional techniques, for example, linking alcohol brands to sporting and cultural activities, sponsorship and placement of products, and new marketing techniques such as emails, SMS messages and podcasts, the use of social media and other communication techniques. The transmission of alcohol marketing messages across national borders and jurisdictions by means such as satellite television and the Internet, and the sponsorship of sporting and cultural events, is emerging as a serious concern in some countries.
The Costa Rica Saludable Coalition draws attention to the Draft Law, processing with file 21,663 “Law for the Sponsorship of National Sports” and 21,745 “Law for the authorization of advertising and sponsorship of alcoholic beverages in sports and creation of the fund National for High Performance Sports” in the Legislative Assembly.
Coalition points out compelling reasons against these pretensions
According to the Coalition, there are a lot of compelling reasons not to approve the sponsorship of sport with alcoholic beverages and they summarize them in six main ones:
1. The State must be above all vigilant and guarantor of public health. Healthy Costa Rica reminds those in charge that in every bill they must legislate in favor of public health to protect the population from risk factors, especially minors.
According to them, multiple studies have shown the relationship between early initiation of alcoholic beverage consumption and high availability, low cost, influence of advertising and influence of sponsorship of alcoholic beverages.
For his part, for Dr. Luis Sandí, IAFA psychiatrist, who has worked with alcoholics for many years, “the proposed replacement text represents a setback in health, since it extends sponsorship to all sports activities, leaving the discovered opportunities for alcohol brands to be installed on children’s team shirts, sports festivals aimed at minors, communal sports celebrations and all kinds of family activities that are currently protected by current legislation”.
2. Premium in the proposed bill is an economic aspect and not the health of people. The document itself states on page 4: “Let us, then, allow sport to have a new impulse, with the sponsorship of those who are the most economically benefited from the advancement of our athletes.”
3. Taxes on alcohol are a health measure. Like tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes are indeed a pro-health measure that can be directed at sports. For example, in 2019, the Costa Rican Sports and Recreation Institute (ICODER) distributed ¢ 350 million in scholarships and in 2020 it will have an additional ¢ 3,000 million, from tobacco tax (Law 9028).
4. In a report on the regulation of the commercialization of alcohol, prepared by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Costa Rica is used as an example of restrictions to follow: “Advertisements cannot present sports or sports figures, either famous or well-known intellectuals, scientists or professionals in any profession; nor can they be broadcast in media directed or designed to attract minors,” the current Law states.
5. Concept of “Progressivity” applied to health programs. The principle of progressivity is understood as a set of measures or conditions that the State must adopt unrestrictedly, to ensure the gradual, sustained and effective advance of public policies that guarantee the full effectiveness of the rights of the population, investing in it to the maximum possible of your resources and without backtracking. By virtue of the above, the protection achieved regarding the human right to health must be respected and increased.
6. There is scientific certainty that one of the populations most affected by the marketing, advertising and sponsorship of alcoholic beverages are adolescents, because in them the consumption of alcohol shows three distinctive vulnerabilities. Indicated by the study Exposure to alcohol advertisements and teenage alcohol-related problems: impulsivity; self-awareness and self-doubt; and; the elevated risk of alcohol use, including impulsive behavior.
The Costa Rica Saludable Coalition is against the proposed laws because they assure that the justification for potential sponsors is to increase the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the country, which would increase the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.
At the Costa Rica News, we totally agree with this point of view, and call out to all conscience citizens to denounce this proposed change in the law, and protect the health of our youth.