Author: Jim McCambridge, Kypros Kypri, Peter Miller, Ben Hawkins and Gerard Hastings
Title: Be aware of Drinkaware
Journal: Addiction, Volume 109, Issue 4, pages 519–524, April 2014
In 2006, Drinkaware was established as a charity in the United Kingdom following a memorandum of understanding between the Portman Group and various UK government agencies. This debate piece briefly reviews the international literature on industry social aspects organizations, examines the nature of Drinkaware’s activities and considers how the public health community should respond. Although the British addiction field and the wider public health community have distanced themselves from the Portman Group, they have not done so from Drinkaware, even though Drinkaware was devised by the Portman Group to serve industry interests. Both long-standing and more recent developments indicate very high levels of industry influence on British alcohol policy, and Drinkaware provides one mechanism of influence. We suggest that working with, and for, industry bodies such as Drinkaware helps disguise fundamental conflicts of interest and serves only to legitimize corporate efforts to promote partnership as a means of averting evidence-based alcohol policies. We invite vigorous debate on these internationally significant issues and propose that similar industry bodies should be carefully studied in other countries.