Surgeons say Heineken's sponsorship of the Australian Grand Prix is 'reckless'

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 14 March 2019

Australia’s surgeons want the Australian Grand Prix to end its partnership with alcohol brand Heineken, arguing it could have fatal consequences.

The Royal Australiasian College of Surgeons, a non-profit organisation and leading voice for surgeons in Australia and New Zealand, says Heineken's celebration of both alcohol and speed shouldn't be accepted.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation, in Australia 30% of fatal road accidents had alcohol abuse as a key factor in 2018.

Dr John Crozier, a trauma surgeon and co-chair of the government’s Australian National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, says the brand’s involvement in the sporting event is “reckless and stupid”.

“It is beyond stupid for Heineken and Formula 1 to use an alcohol brand as a celebration of speed. Driving, drinking and speed too often result in people dying and suffering permanent disability and injuries,” Dr Crozier says.

“Heineken, Formula One and the Melbourne Grand Prix organisers should be condemned for their part in brokering, endorsing and permitting such a dangerous sponsorship.

“We are already losing ground on road safety. Lives are at stake. Knowing this, we cannot allow a corporate giant such as Heineken to put more lives at risk, simply in order to shift more cases of beer.”

Crozier, who endorses the End Alcohol and Advertising in Sports campaign, says evidence shows that the more children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to suffer from a range of alcohol harm.

While Crozier says alcohol advertising in any sport should be banned. The risks of it in motorsports is particularly dangerous.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has also called on Formula 1 to sever ties with big alcohol brands.

“Tragically, more people will die on the roads over the Grand Prix weekend. It seems that in partnering with Formula 1, Heineken cares little for how it contributes to Australia’s road toll, as long as it translates to a spike in alcohol and product sales,” says FARE chief executive Michael Thorn. 

FARE, an independent not-for-profit organisation, works to eliminate the harm caused by alcohol and recently released a research report on the dangers of alcohol advertising.

AdNews has approached Heineken for comment. 

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