Alcohol formula

Big Alcohol attempts to undermine the Global Action Plan

According to a new report, alcohol companies and their lobby groups are systematically working to undermine and dilute global alcohol policies that would reduce the harms associated with their products.

The report from the Center for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) at La Trobe University, released today by the Foundation for Alcohol and Research Education (FARE), found that Big Alcohol deliberately worked to water down the Global Alcohol Project of the University. World Health Organization (WHO). plan of action 2022-2030 to strengthen the implementation of the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (the plan of action).

In 2010, WHO published the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol (the Global Strategy). However, in 2020, WHO started developing the action plan after progress on the global strategy was slow.

Alcohol companies and their lobby groups submitted 60 submissions to the action plan consultation, which represents almost a quarter (24%) of all submissions.

Many of these submissions contained misleading claims and misrepresented the evidence. in an attempt to cast doubt on public health measures that have been shown to prevent and reduce alcohol harm. The analysis found:

  • Almost all of these submissions (90%) called for greater involvement of alcohol companies as a stakeholder/partner in harm reduction and policy development.
  • More than half (56%) of submissions question the WHO’s “SAFER” initiatives – evidence-based policies that target the price, availability and promotion of alcohol products, as well as policies aimed at improve health services and the prevention of drunk driving.

The report also found that only 36% (17) of those submissions referenced specific evidence to back up their arguments, and of those, ten misinterpreted the evidence and nine promoted weak evidence.

CAPR Emeritus Professor Robin Room said the findings show that alcohol companies and their lobby groups are using well-known tactics to water down health policy.

“In terms of the use of evidence, our analysis identified alcohol industry actors employing practices of misrepresentation, misinterpretation and promotion of weak evidence over stronger evidence, such as the also found researchers reviewing policy submissions elsewhere in the industry,” Prof Room said.

WHO has released a revised draft of the Global Action Plan. FARE compared the discussion paper and the third draft of the Global Plan of Action and found changes consistent with recommendations made by alcohol companies and their lobbyists, including:

  • Less emphasis on implementing SAFER initiatives – evidence-based policies that target the price, availability and promotion of alcohol products, as well as policies aimed at improving health services and alcohol prevention drunk driving, and
  • change actions related to the marketing of alcohol, allowing alcohol companies to set their own standards and rules rather than governments.

FARE CEO Ms Caterina Giorgi said alcohol companies have been pushing for decades to downplay health problems and delay effective measures to reduce alcohol harm.

“Alcohol causes massive harm to millions of people around the world, which is why strong global action is needed to ensure governments do all they can to reduce alcohol-related harm. “said Ms. Giorgi.

“In Australia, we have seen alcohol companies fight for 20 years against pregnancy health warnings. We have seen them try to water down the National Alcohol Strategy and delay the release of the National Alcohol Guidelines. We now see their efforts to weaken Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the independent agency that oversaw the process of developing pregnancy-related health warnings.

“Alcohol companies have proven time and time again that they are only committed to undermining governments’ efforts to protect community health and well-being. They should have no role in shaping health policy.

Movendi International President Ms Kristina Sperkova said the global alcohol industry was doing everything in its power to derail WHO’s efforts to accelerate action on alcohol as a as a public health priority.

“Countries around the world are reporting that interference from the alcohol industry is the main reason for the lack of progress in reducing alcohol burden. The alcohol industry is undermining science and inducing the misled the public about the harms associated with their products,” Ms Sperkova said.

“After a lost decade for progress in alcohol policy, the alcohol industry should no longer be allowed to hide the fact that its products cause cancer, are toxic, addictive and teratogenic. The alcohol industry has a fundamental conflict of interest, and WHO should protect its health policy formulation processes from alcohol industry interference.

WHO is due to review the Global Action Plan at the 150th session of the WHO Executive Board to be held from 24-29 January 2022.

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