Big Alcohol: Fooling People About “Safe” Consumption
While Australia’s alcohol consumption guidelines are under review, Big Alcohol is trying to fool people with the promotion of “safe” alcohol consumption levels.
The current Australian guidelines for low risk alcohol consumption are 2 standard units per day and 4 in any heavy episode of alcohol use. According to scientific research, no amount of alcohol use is safe.
Yet, the alcohol industry calls these guidelines “harsh” and lobbies against improving of the guidelines. As The Conversation reports, alcohol lobbyists have been trying aggressively to undermine the science about alcohol harms.
The alcohol consumption guidelines are prepared by scientists based on latest research to help prevent and reduce harm from alcohol. While there is no safe or healthy amount for alcohol use, these guidelines are intended to help people who still consume alcohol to reduce their risk of death, disease and injury.
Big alcohol against public health
Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA), a lobby front group for many alcohol companies including Asahi from Japan, Diageo from the UK, Pernod Ricard from France, Coca-Cola Amatil, and many others, submitted a report during a public consultation period in 2017.
Claiming alcohol is healthy
Big Alcohol has resurfaced this report now that the guidelines are under review. The report contains some questionable information, including claims that alcohol use has health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes – which are now proven to be false.
Claiming Australia’s guidelines are out of touch
Further, the Big Alcohol report compares guidelines among countries in an apparent attempt to show Australia’s guidelines are stricter. However, as The Conversation points out, these countries also have higher BAC limits for driving thereby increasing risks of road traffic accidents due to alcohol.
This is not the first time that Big Alcohol has tried to undermine public health to protect their profits. They fought against the 0.05 BAC limit for driving under the influence of alcohol, in the 1950s, and have successfully stopped Australian governments informing citizens about the cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption.
The alcohol industry has been fighting for many decades to preserve profits over public safety, disregarding consumers’ rights to know the contents of their products, and the harms associated,” writes Peter Millier in The Conversation.
Even right now, the ABA is fighting against proposed warning labels showing alcohol is harmful for pregnant women.
Aggressive lobbying against evidence-based, public health-oriented alcohol consumption guidelines is a tactic the alcohol industry employs around the world. For example in 2016 in the United Kingdom, where the alcohol industry launched a relentless challenge against the UK Government’s new alcohol guidelines. Lobbyists of the alcohol industry front group The Portman Group interfered in the Department of Health consultation on the new limits set by Sally Davies, the chief medical office. Some of the member companies of The Portman Group are the same that are behind the attack on the guidelines in Australia: AB InBev, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard, Carlsberg and more.