Calls for the Victorian Government to ban ‘boozy’ billboards are a welcome addition to the national child safe, ‘G’ rated billboard campaign, says the Australian Christian Lobby.

According to ACL spokesperson, Wendy Francis, it was particularly pleasing to see Cancer Council Victoria call for an alcohol advertising ban within walking distance of schools.

“Research reveals what everyone already knows – advertising has a direct influence on behaviour, and ‘boozy’ billboards can lead to binge drinking,” Ms Francis said.

“Cancer Council Victoria’s legal policy adviser Sarah Jackson is correct identifying that self-regulation has failed and the Government needed to step in to make advertising child safe.

Approximately 4,000 Victorian school students aged 12 to 17 participated in the Cancer Council research, published in the Journal of Substance Use, revealing alcohol advertising markedly increased risky drinking practices.

The ACL supports the Cancer Council and renews its calls for the Government to address all advertising harmful to children.

“A more child-focused approach in advertising is badly needed,” Ms Francis said.

“Self-regulation has clearly failed and as the Cancer Council has noted about outdoor advertising, ‘it is advertising we know kids cannot avoid — it is everywhere, they can’t switch it off and parents can’t control ­exposure to it’.

Ms Francis said there was overwhelming evidence of the short and long-term effects on children of viewing sexualising and objectifying images and the influence this advertising has on their cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, attitudes and beliefs about their own worth.

“Unfortunately, advertisers can, and do, ignore community guidelines with no penalty. There is absolutely no incentive to comply with any standard - in fact, the opposite; they often receive free media attention from concerned citizens who take the time to complain.

“All outdoor advertising, no matter the location, should be appropriate for viewing by children and should be free from adult only themed messaging, this includes advertising of a sexualised nature.

“Childhood should be a time of joy and innocence, they should have the right to this.

“We urge the government to consider the failure of the advertising industry to adequately self-regulate to a threshold that upholds community standards, and to look at stronger regulatory options,” Ms Francis said.