In the Doghouse

Another Social Responsibility Fakeout from Diageo

April 27, 2015

Diageo recently heard from public health advocates in Ireland who pushed back, and hard, against the spirits-conglomerate-funded "Stop Out-of-Control Drinking" campaign. The spirits giant used its influence to dominate everything from:

The last item Diageo attempted to influence, minimum pricing, is an evidence-based intervention that expert public health researchers have concluded would be most effective to reducing alcohol consumption in the country. In protest, board members representing public health stepped down from the campaign and multiple organizations withdrew their support, citing the World Health Organization's position that industry should not have a place at the table in formulating public health policy, as it will only support weak alcohol policies favorable to its business interests that are unlikely to reduce harmful alcohol consumption.

After the enormous public pressure, Smith finally stepped down . But Diageo still sponsors the campaign, and advocates point out that the Diageo influence will certainly continue. The campaign is not likely to have much impact (if any) on reducing harmful drinking.

"Drink responsibly" campaigns are a win on every level for the alcohol industry. Such campaigns allow alcohol producers to blame youth, parents, and anyone but their own corporate actions for the staggering health and economic harm from alcohol products, while making alcohol companies look socially responsible. Until Big Alcohol is removed from the public health policy process, its ability to quash evidence-based policies that reduce alcohol related harm such as increased pricing/taxes, advertising and marketing restrictions, and reduced access and availability, will continue.