HRM tightens rules on alcohol sponsorship

City councillors have proposed a new regulation to control alcohol sponsorships to try to promote safe drinking.

Councillors want all sponsorship adverts to contain responsible drinking content. (Somed Shahadu photo)

By Somed Shahadu

City councillors have proposed a new regulation to control alcohol sponsorships to promote safe drinking. The new regulation, Sponsorship and Naming Rights, will restrict which events can gain alcohol sponsorship, namely sports and parties.

“Alcohol sponsorships must contain a responsible drinking component,” a council report says.

Councillors are currently on break, but are expected to debate the regulation when they resume sessions on March 19.

Coun. Russell Walker proposed the motion. The report says, “HRM staff reviewed the sponsorship policies of the other Canadian municipalities researched, namely Moncton, Kingston, Ottawa, London … as well as considering HRM’s history and practice around accepting sponsorship from alcohol companies.”

The new regulation seeks to promote safe drinking in the city. (Somed Shahadu photo)

But Stuart Reece, sales agent at Sleeman Breweries, believes advertisement and increased sales are not the priority of alcohol sponsors.

“It’s our social responsibility to give back,” he says. “Take for instance the skating oval. It is sponsored by Molson Canadian – they have their flags there … they are not selling any product. For them, it’s just getting out to the community and providing them added funding.”

Reece agrees there should be strict regulation on what kind of events can be sponsored by alcohol companies.

“If there are a lot of children at an event, there should be some thought as to who sponsors that event,” he says.

“I don’t think advertising promotes underage drinking anyway. It is more geared towards older clients.”

He says the motion, if passed, will reduce alcohol advertisement in events, but he maintains it will not affect sales.

“It’s [sponsorship] to help the community,” he says.  “By restricting it, it’s just taking money away and they [event organizers] will have to find resources elsewhere from other investors. I don’t think it really affects our business that much, and city council have to make a choice.”

Related audio

Stuart Reece talks about a proposed new regulation on alcohol sponsorship.

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