Big Alcohol Puts Women, Newly Born in Harm’s Way
A prevention campaign by the French alcohol industry group Vin & Société is promoting wine and putting women and newborn babies at risk. The campaign has caused an outcry among public health experts.
The slogan of the campaign is “A good wine can wait up to nine months” and it depicts the roundness of a glass of wine with that of the belly of a pregnant woman. It calls on women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy “as a precaution” but misinforms people by stating there is no consensus about risks of alcohol during pregnancy. This is false as the public health community and scientific evidence shows alcohol is bad pre-conception, during pregnancy and also after birth for the baby – for example during breast feeding.
The campaign while evoking on fetal alcohol syndrome omits the serious impacts of alcohol use during pregnancy such as facial deformities, damage to vital organs, psychic and motor handicaps, risks of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, premature birth.
Putting profit over public health, not the first time for Big Alcohol
This tactic is not new for the alcohol industry. Previous research comparing information provided in alcohol industry organization websites and public health websites found that industry funded sites omit and misrepresent the evidence on key risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. This may “nudge” women toward continuing to consume alcohol during pregnancy.
According to Bernard Jomier, a doctor and senator, this is a subtle bypass of the Evin Law. The alcohol industry should not be involved in actions outside their core business, where they have no expertise and a fundamental conflict of interest, such as identification and support of pregnant women with high alcohol consumption. It is contradictory for the industry to be launching prevention initiatives while being against increasing taxes and sizes of pregnancy warning labels on alcohol bottles.
This campaign is typical of what I call “piracy prevention”, that is to say, the diversion of a message of prevention for purposes of indirect promotion of an economic sector,” added Guylaine Benech, a consultant trainer in public health, as per Le Figaro.
Big Alcohol uses misleading framing of alcohol risks
Recent research has also exposed the alcohol industry for using misleading, incomplete and contradictory information when communicating about the harm of alcohol use during, before and after pregnancy.
Alcohol industry–funded websites omit and misrepresent the evidence on key risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. These findings suggest that alcohol industry–funded bodies may increase risk to pregnant women by disseminating misinformation.
The public should be made widely aware of the risks of obtaining health information from alcohol industry–funded sources.