The drinks industry – part of the solution, or part of the problem?

By Richard Lewis at November 21st, 2011

Andrew Misell, Manager of Alcohol Concern Cymru reflects on the drinks industry as part of alcohol awareness week:

During Alcohol Awareness Week (14-20 November 2011) Alcohol Concern Cymru is asking whether the drinks industry can ever be part of the solution to alcohol misuse.

The industry is working hard to present a positive image of alcohol, in the face of clear evidence of the harm it causes. At the same time, producers and retailers continue to promote alcohol in ways that encourage overconsumption, whilst seeking to blame a “mindless minority [that] does not understand how to drink sensibly” for the resultant problems.

There’s an obvious contradiction between the drinks industry’s claims to be promoting sensible drinking and their need to increase sales. If everyone in the UK drank within the recommended limits, it’s estimated that the industry’s profits would fall by 40%.  Drinks companies urge us to ‘enjoy’ their products ‘responsibly’, encouraging us to carry on drinking but with a vague idea about being careful. Alongside this, the industry is keen to for us to think that life would be dull without alcohol. As one of the biggest international drinks companies puts it, “every day, everywhere customers and consumers can rely on Diageo to help them celebrate life.”

Is it any wonder that the World Health Organisation take the view that the alcohol industry should have no role in policy formation or health promotion with regards to alcohol?

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