In 2012 an inventory of >3500 industry actions was compiled by alcohol industry bodies in support of the Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, adopted by WHO in 2010.
This study critically evaluated a sample of these corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities conducted in Europe.
A content analysis was performed on a sample of 679 CSR activities from three industry segments (producers, trade associations and social-aspects organizations) described on an industry-supported website. Volume of CSR activity was correlated with country-level data reflecting alcohol problems and production.
Only 1.9% of CSR activities were supported by evidence of effectiveness, 74.5% did not conform to Global strategy categories and only 0.1% were consistent with “best buys” for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases. Of the three segments, trade associations were the most likely to employ a strategic CSR approach and engage in partnerships with government. A statistically significant correlation was found between volume of CSR activities and alcohol industry revenue, as well as market size.
CSR activities conducted by the alcohol industry in the WHO European Region are unlikely to contribute to WHO targets but may have a public-relations advantage for the alcohol industry.