Expert slams drinks industry health campaigns
Published 22/04/2015 | 02:30
A leading expert on alcohol harm has hit out at drinks industry-funded health campaigns, arguing they are compounding the normalisation of excessive drinking.
Katherine Brown, director of the London-based Institute of Alcohol Studies, said that the public could not trust such campaigns.
"It gives the alcohol industry a certain level of legitimacy at the table of policy debate," she warned.
"There is ultimately a conflict of interest because you have an industry whose primary motive is to look after the profits of its shareholders... versus the public health objective (reducing alcohol consumption) that will cut its profits."
Speaking at the 'Girls, Women and Alcohol' conference in Dublin yesterday, Ms Brown said such campaigns often focus on a "very narrow" group of problem drinkers, rather than highlighting the increased health risks faced by all drinkers.
Ms Brown also referred to "pink washing", whereby advertisers link alcohol to breast-cancer awareness promotions to boost their brand's standing among women.
"Alcohol, like tobacco, causes cancer. Alcohol is a group one carcinogen in the same group as asbestos and tobacco.
"But public awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer is very low. A recent UK study found that more than two-thirds of people were not aware of the link.
"Yet you have alcohol promotions linked to breast cancer... This is a major conflict of interest," she said.
She said it was now possible for a woman in Ireland to reach her low-risk weekly limit for alcohol - 11 standard drinks - by spending just €6.30.