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Battle of unhealthy sponsors in State of Origin

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The XXXX Queensland Maroons will have twice as many examples of unhealthy advertising on their uniforms as the VB New South Wales Blues in next week’s Game One of the 2017 Holden State of the Origin, a Curtin University review has found.

The Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia (PHAIWA), based at Curtin University, found eight exposures of unhealthy sponsorships on Queensland’s uniforms, compared to four for New South Wales. Neither team had any healthy sponsorships displayed on their uniforms.

PHAIWA Director Dr Melissa Stoneham said Game One of the 2016 State of Origin series broke television ratings records with 4.423 million people tuning in to watch.

“It is disappointing to see alcohol and gambling advertising attracting such prominence on the uniforms worn by NRL players when millions of people including children will be watching the State of Origin series,” Dr Stoneham said.

“I was particularly concerned to see both teams are named after their alcohol sponsors. NRL teams should not be sponsored by unhealthy brands because they send negative health messages to the public, including children.”

The review was conducted in conjunction with the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

FARE Chief Executive Officer Michael Thorn said he hoped to mobilise community support for a campaign, called #BoozeFreeSport, which aimed to remove alcohol sponsorship from sport.

“State of Origin should showcase the great game of Rugby League,” Mr Thorn said. “Instead, Australian kids are exposed to a battle of the beer brands, 80 minutes of in-your-face, shameless alcohol advertising and promotion. This is exactly the toxic alcohol advertising in sport that our campaign, #BoozeFreeSport, is aimed squarely at.”

Game One of the 2017 State of Origin series will be held on May 31 at Suncorp Stadium in Queensland.

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