This article describes the origins and purposes of alcohol industry “social aspects organizations” as portrayed in internal tobacco industry documents.


We systematically searched the Truth Tobacco Documents Library for information regarding alcohol industry social aspects organizations. Using content provided by industry actors themselves, we identified a series of episodes in their evolution from the early 1950s to the early 1990s.

Hill and Knowlton, a public relations company, developed and managed the tobacco industry’s scientific programs from the early 1950s onward. At the same time, the company performed a similar function for the U.S. distilled spirits industry, with research funding central to advancing what were conceived as public relations goals. They sought to persuade the public and policy makers that the cause of alcohol problems was the people who drank distilled spirits, rather than the product itself. Facing the existential threat posed by the developing population-level understanding of alcohol problems in the 1980s, national and international trade associations collaborated with the tobacco industry in various ways. The largest companies sought to bring together the different sectors of the alcohol industry to support a global network of national-level social aspects organizations.


Alcohol industry social aspects organizations were developed to advance long-term public relations goals to manage both policy and science.

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