Vested Interests in Addiction Research and Policy. Alcohol Industry Use of Social Aspect Public Relations Organizations Against Preventative Health Measures
It has been proposed that alcohol industry ‘social aspects/public relations’ organizations (SAPROs) serve the agenda of lending credibility to industry claims of corporate responsibility while promoting ineffective industry-friendly interventions (such as school-based education or TV advertising campaigns) and creating doubt about interventions which have a strong evidence base (such as higher taxes on alcoholic beverages). This paper investigated whether submissions to Australia’s National Preventative Health Taskforce (NPHT) from alcohol industry bodies regarding the Australian SAPRO, Drinkwise, have used this organization to demonstrate corporate responsibility while promoting industry-friendly interventions.
Submissions to the Australian National Preventative Health Taskforce (NPHT) discussion paper Australia, the healthiest country by 2020 (n = 375) were examined to identify those with primary alcohol content. A thematic analysis of the resulting 33 submissions was conducted to determine which organization, institution or individual discussed Drinkwise.
Nine of the 33 submissions discussed Drinkwise; all were submitted by the alcohol industry or its affiliates. Every industry submission referred to Drinkwise either as providing evidence of social responsibility or by suggesting the industry-friendly actions of Drinkwise as alternatives to those recommended by the NPHT report.
Drinkwise has been used by the alcohol industry to create an impression of social responsibility while promoting interventions that maintain profits and campaigning against effective interventions such as higher taxes on alcohol.