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Influencers Slammed For Failing To Disclose Alcohol Promotions

Yasmin Paton

Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2019 9:42 AM , updated Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:19 AM

Prominent social media influencers are being slammed for failing to disclose they're being paid to promote alcohol online.

Prominent social media influencers are being slammed for failing to disclose they're being paid to promote alcohol online.

Health authorities are calling for new laws to stop the sales tactic, which they describe as sneaky and dangerous.

Casually holding a wine glass by the pool or having lunch over a bottle of strategically placed white background -- alcohol advertising on social media is lucrative and sly.

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“This is certainly from the playbook of Big Tobacco. Using glamour and spin to promote products,” VicHealth's Emma Saleeba said.

Influencers spruiking alcohol are being compared to tobacco advertising. Photo: Getty.

Influencers -- usually good-looking people with a large following -- are selected by alcohol companies to spruik their booze.

A VicHealth study found of Australia's top 70 influencers, 75 percent promoted alcohol and fewer than 25 percent disclosed they were being paid for doing so.

“Regulation needs to catch up with technology in this space,” Saleeba said.

Social media users say they're being sucked-in by the sales tactic.

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“You see someone that you follow and you think ‘Oh so-and-so is drinking that, I'm going to drink that, then suddenly you've had a big night,” Victoria McKenzie, a social media user, said.

“You feel a bit stupid you sort of feel like ‘Ahh they did get me there’,” Nathan Vadnjal, another social media user, said.

Influencer and model Amy Castano promotes spirits on her Instagram feed but said she always includes "#ad" so her followers know it's cash for comment.

“I definitely think we have a responsibility to make sure that any brand we are working with is disclosed,” she said.

In Australia, someone ends up in hospital every three-and-a-half minutes, because of preventable conditions caused by alcohol. On average, one person dies every 90 minutes.

Those who like or follow alcohol brands on social media are twice as likely to drink at risky levels than those who don't.

VicHealth has launched a website designed to name and shame influencers and alcohol companies doing the wrong thing: topsinvic.com.au

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