Prohibition on balance

If you wish to attend events during this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week which runs from today to 4th of April, you’d better not have any connection with the alcohol industry.

Before accepting your registration for the event, the organisers insist on the  following criteria for acceptance:
“Alcohol Awareness week aims to stimulate a collective response to the issue of Alcohol Harm in Ireland. The importance of maintaining credibility and complete independence from any influence from the Drinks Industry in any form cannot be overstated. Therefore, to protect the integrity and ensure the continued cooperation of the many Organisations associated with Alcohol Awareness Week, Organisations registering as contributors to Alcohol Awareness Week should have no connection with or receive funding/support in any form from the Drinks Industry.”

Guess that takes care of any question of balance in this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week rather neatly then.
Bear in mind that one of the organising bodies is our own country’s Department of Health!

It seems that Diageo’s Chief Executive Ivan Menezes got it right when he stated last week to the Impact Marketing Seminar in New York that alcohol companies must “fight for the right” to help tackle irresponsible drinking in the face of “negative sentiment” from NGOs and governments.

He explained that while “some public health groups argue that our point-of-view should not be heard, that we should not be allowed to market our products, that our responsible drinking programmes are mere window-dressing…. industry must have a seat at the table.

“We have valuable expertise and a legitimate point-of-view and need to fight for our right to particate.”

That seems never more so than here in dear old Ireland where our very own HSE has been singularly reticent in engaging with the industry, a vital stakeholder in any moves to tackle alcohol misuse successfully.

Presumably a set of blinkers will be handed to each Alcohol Awareness participant this year lest they should catch a glimpse of the bigger picture….

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