What makes Christmas meaningful to you?

It’s that time of year again when we are bombarded with even more marketing messages and advertising than usual. We’re sold Christmas lights, unnecessary gifts galore, festive food and no end of expensive alcoholic beverages. It is almost impossible to avoid the barrage of adverts the silly season brings.

Yet we all know that a materialised Christmas is meaningless unless we share it with the people who matter most in our lives. Unfortunately, we repeatedly see an increase in the advertising of goods that are known to be harmful to our health over the festive season. Alcohol is no exception. Alcohol advertisements are strategically and creatively designed to normalise excessive and frequent consumption of alcohol, with little regard to the potential risks to consumers such as pregnant women or the children who are subjected to alcohol advertising at summer sporting events.

We see advent calendars with a different drink every day; ‘ugly’ Christmas jumpers with a built-in wine cooler; new festive flavours – consumers can have it all. It is as if each festive season provides new opportunities for every Christmas tradition to be hijacked by alcohol advertisements. Yet alcohol products are widely promoted and don’t mention the health risks; especially for pregnant women.

What concerns us is the bizarre advertising standards which enable the alcohol industry to thrive and flourish. We know women should be warned through standardised labelling about the dangers of alcohol and pregnancy, yet there are no mandatory alcohol warning labels for pregnant women, while energy drinks are labelled to advise pregnant women not to consume them.

We also know children should not be subject to alcohol advertising, yet a television advertising regulation loophole allows alcohol to be promoted during live sporting events.

In stark contrast, NOFASD Australia asked some children what they like about Christmas and their message is clear; and it’s not about alcohol! For a look at their thoughts and some real spirit of the season – watch the video below.

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Louise Gray

Louise Gray is Executive Officer and Chairperson of the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD) Australia.

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