Big Alcohol: Profiting alcohol harm – shows new international research
New research from the International Alcohol Control study, coordinated by Massey University in New Zealand, demonstrates the extent to which the alcohol industry relies on harmful use of alcohol to drive its profits.
— Drug&AlcoholReview (@APSAD_DAR) October 28, 2016
Big Alcohol’s profit greed exposed
The study, entitled “How the alcohol industry relies on harmful use of alcohol and works to protect its profits”, was published in the Drug and Alcohol Review and shows to which extent the alcohol industry is relying on the harmful use of alcohol for its profits. According to the findings, 59% of all alcohol is consumed in binges of eight drinks or more for men, and six or more for women.
Big Alcohol is working to position itself as “collaborators” in alcohol policy making with the objective to divert policies away from high-impact, cost-effective and evidence-based measures (also known as the three best buys of regulating marketing, reducing availability and decreasing affordability). The way the alcohol industry tries to portray alcohol consumption and alcohol harm largely blames individuals and heavier consumers, ignoring the role that societal environment and norms play. The goal of their public relations organisations is to promote the blurry concept of “responsible drinking”.
Professor Sally Casswell, lead author of the study, says public health researchers and advocates are increasingly concerned by the activities of the alcohol industry, especially the powerful transnational alcohol corporations, concerning the formulation of alcohol policy internationally, regionally and nationally.
The industry consistently lobbies against effective policy and, as in the recent case in Scotland with minimum unit price, successfully holds up or completely blocks policy that would reduce alcohol-related harm.
This analysis shows clearly the conflict of interest that exists between the transnational alcohol corporations and public health. It’s very similar to that of the tobacco industry.”
Data collected in the International Alcohol Control study was used to estimate how much heavier alcohol use occasions contribute to the alcohol market in five different countries – New Zealand, Australia, Mongolia, Vietnam and Thailand. Analysis shows how much the alcohol industry is relying on the harmful use of alcohol for their profits.
- In higher income countries heavier alcohol use occasions make up approximately 50% of sales.
- In middle income countries it is closer to two-thirds.
The researchers conclude:
It is this reliance on the harmful use of alcohol which underpins the conflicting interests between the transnational alcohol corporations and public health and which militates against their involvement in the alcohol policy arena.
The industry relies on the harmful use of alcohol for its sales and therefore its profits, and we should not be surprised by the extent to which they go to protect these.”