This Public Health Power Hour explored the question: “What impact does the alcohol industry, their products and practices, have on global health?”
The host Steve Hamill, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Communication at Vital Strategies discussed with three experts the state of alcohol policy development and how countries are leading the way with population-based alcohol policy solutions.
The experts on this episode are: Alison Douglas, Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland; Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President, Public Health Programs, Vital Strategies; and Pubudu Sumanasekara, Vice President, Movendi International, and Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC), Sri Lanka.
The episode started with the three experts sharing current news on alcohol issues in their country.
Adam Kapati shared news about the COVID-19 outbreak in different provinces in Canada. Specifically how freedom of persons and individual liberty arguments with regards to relaxing COVID-19 measures did not reflect the wider public health imperative and collective implications of individual decisions.
Alison Douglas shared findings from brand new research that exposed the harmful and pervasive alcohol marketing in the Rugby Six Nations. Specifically, how the alcohol industry adapts to the different regulations in countries even with comprehensive bans of alcohol advertising, promotions and sponsorship.
And Pubudu Sumanasekara shared how the alcohol industry used their political influence in Sri Lanka to push for opening bars a week prior to lockdown relaxation. This sparked public protests since alcohol has serious negative consequences for COVID-19 containment in particular and health and development in general.
The discussion then covers several interrelated themes regarding alcohol issues and alcohol industry practices.
- The scale and scope of alcohol as a global public health problem.
- How to tackle the alcohol burden through effective policies such as the SAFER technical package by the World Health Organization.
- The case study of how Scotland used effective policies such as minimum unit pricing to tackle their alcohol burden.
- The alcohol industry perpetuating the vicious cycle of alcohol harm and poverty in the developing.
- Big Alcohol myths that undermine effective public health action on alcohol harm and direct political interference of the alcohol industry.
- The different skills and strategies public health professionals need to overcome the challenges posed by the industry to achieve progress.
- Alcohol policy in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Listen to the entire discussion on Soundcloud.