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01/02/2017

Alcohol industry subverting science to prevent greater regulation, study finds

The Guardian is reporting that Australian researchers say industry’s lobbying of politicians and involvement in policy discussions obstructing health outcomes. T

The alcohol industry makes claims to governments that contradict and obfuscate science in an attempt to influence marketing regulations and prevent more stringent controls on products, an Australian study has found.

Researchers led by Deakin University in Geelong reviewed all alcohol industry submissions made to a government review of alcohol marketing regulations. The review focused on the exposure of children to alcohol and the effectiveness of industry self-regulation. Prof Kypros Kypri, said the findings showed that alcohol industry lobbying of politicians and involvement in discussions about policy were the most significant obstacles to evidence-based health.

The industry used tactics similar to those used by big tobacco to oppose increased regulation, the analysis found. Like big tobacco, the alcohol industry claimed regulation would be redundant because it was selling a legal product and self-regulation was already occurring; that there was insufficient evidence to link the marketing of alcohol products to increased alcohol consumption; that regulation would have unintended negative consequences on employment and the economy; and that regulation was questionable legally.

Kypri, from the University of Newcastle’s school of medicine and public health, said there were also other tactics used by the alcohol industry, including claiming that companies were socially responsible because of their involvement in responsible drinking campaigns and making recommendations for alternative strategies that the government could use to address the section of society that drinks heavily, instead of “punishing the majority”.

Kypri said he was shocked in 2014 when he attended an intergovernmental committee on drug policy meeting on alcohol-related violence and harm, only to find senior representatives from numerous alcohol groups at the meeting. “I will not sit in a room with the alcohol industry to develop health policy,” he said.

The research, published in the international scientific journal PLOS One, concluded that continuing to engage industry stakeholders in public health discussions would only give alcohol lobbyists more opportunity to present unscientific claims.

Source: The Guardian