Following our debate in May looking at The Responsibility Deal, we were really interested in seeing the article on page 2 of The Independent yesterday: Drinks industry takes a hold on Government alcohol policy
According to this article, the alcohol industry has tightened its grip on a key government policy making committee that is responsible for reducing the harm of excessive drinking.
The name of the committee has changed from the ‘Alcohol Strategy Group’ to the ‘Government and Partners Working Group on Alcohol’, which The Independent positioned, reflecting its new commercial bias?
The article also looks at the debate on whether the Government was right to consult the industry about its plans but was wrong to include it on policy-making committees.
It discusses whether “making money from alcohol sales is at odds with reducing harm.”
The Department of Health will publish a revised alcohol strategy later this year. As we discussed at a previous Conversation Society live debate, in March of this year, six major health groups did not sign up to the “Responsibility Deal” on alcohol covering voluntary deals with the drinks industry on matters like price, labels and marketing.
Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern said yesterday the Government must decide if it “wants to get to grips with alcohol harm or let the drinks industry call the shots.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are committed to challenging the assumption that the only way to change people’s behaviour is through adding rules and regulations.”
Dr Vivienne Nathanson commented on how alcohol firms have a vested interest in boosting sales. She says “we badly need an alcohol strategy, but executives from the drinks industry are not the people we want writing it.”
Whatever your view points on this, we can’t ignore the prevalence it has following these recent comments. This topic seems to be very much on agenda at the moment, with BBC Panorama looking last night at the growing toll of harm caused to young people by alcohol.