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Bill to ban alcohol ads by young celebrities

2012/06/29 | 430 views | Permalink | Source

Figure skater Kim Yu-na appears in a local beer advertisement. / Korea Times file

By Kim Rahn

Figure skater Kim Yu-na and CL of girl group 2NE1 may not appear in beer commercials anymore, because a lawmaker plans to present a bill banning athletes and entertainers aged-under 25 appearing in alcoholic drink ads.

The move is aimed at putting the brakes on alcoholic marketing that targets youngsters.

Rep. Lee Elisa of the ruling Saenuri Party, a sports star-turned-lawmaker, said Thursday she has decide to propose a revision to the National Health Promotion Law to prevent TV ads for alcoholic beverages having athletes and entertainers under that age as models.

Her decision came after the Korean Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (KAAP) raised concern last month over the effect sports stars' appearing in alcohol ads could have on youngsters, citing the example of the figure skating megastar Kim who recently appeared in a Hite beer commercial.

"Alcoholic beverage companies are targeting young drinkers these days and hiring young models who have just come of age. It's easy for young drinkers, including teenagers, to empathize with those stars who are their peers, and it can create a positive image of drinking and promote alcohol consumption", Lee said.

In recent years, beer and soju companies have mobilized idol stars for their ads _ Kim, CL, boy band Big Bang, actor Kim Soo-hyun and actress Shin Se-kyung to name a few. Most of them are in their early 20s.

A survey conducted on 2,000 middle and high school students in 2010 by the Youth Anti-Smoking and Drinking Association showed that 51.5 percent of the students were exposed to alcoholic beverage ads at least once a day, and 56.3 percent of them did so through television, according to the lawmaker.

She said some countries are adopting similar measures. In the United States and Britain, celebrities under 25 years old, including sports stars, entertainers and models, are banned from pitching alcoholic beverages, while France bans any ads of alcohol on television.

According to the former national table tennis player, the World Health Organization (WHO) has already recommended restriction of alcoholic beverage ads to prevent youngsters' drinking problems, adopting the Declaration of Young People and Alcohol in 2001.

"The declaration says we need to minimize the pressure on young people to drink, especially in relation to alcohol promotion and advertising. To protect youngsters from being exposed to alcohol promotion, it urges manufacturers not to target alcohol products at children and adolescents", she said.

Lee said she plans to submit the revision bill to the National Assembly on Monday which calls for one year in prison or a maximum of 10 million won in fines for violators.

On the assumption that she is targeting Kim Yu-na, the retired athlete said, "I'm not criticizing or targeting any specific individual sports star or entertainer".

About 20 lawmakers have joined her legislation bid and signed the draft bill. "It is said some 30 signatures are enough to present a bill to the Assembly. But I'll collect up to 40 signatures to have as many lawmakers backing my proposal".

Regarding Lee's bill, an official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare said the ministry has the same opinion about the KAAP, so it gives consent to the National Assembly's move as well.

Lee, the former table tennis star, served as the chief of Korea National Training Center between March 2005 and September 2008.

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