Corporations use a range of strategies to dispute their role in causing public health harms and to limit the scope of effective public health interventions. This study analyzed alcohol, food, soda and gambling industry documents and websites and minutes of reports of relevant health select committees, using standard document analysis methods. Two main framings were identified: (i) these industries argue that aetiology is complex, so individual products cannot be blamed; and (ii) they argue that population health measures are ‘too simple’ to address complex public health problems. However, in this second framing, there are inherent contradictions in how industry used ‘complexity’, as their alternative solutions are generally not, in themselves, complex. Corporate arguments and language may reflect the existence of a cross-industry ‘playbook’, whose use results in the undermining of effective public health policies – in particular the undermining of effective regulation of profitable industry activities that are harmful to the public’s health.
Petticrew M, Katikireddi SV, Knai C, Cassidy R, Maani Hessari N, Thomas J, Weishaar H. ‘Nothing can be done until everything is done': the use of complexity arguments by food, beverage, alcohol and gambling industries. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017;71(11):1078-1083.
An ad for beer on the New York City subway
Last month, reported The New York Times, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted to ban advertising of alcoholic beverages on New York City buses, subway cars and stations, contending that the social benefits of deterring underage drinking outweighed the loss of revenue. After years of pressure from grass-roots organizations, the board voted unanimously in favor of the ban, which will go into effect in January. Advocates have long said that alcohol advertising is a public health issue and that the proliferation of such advertising increases the likelihood of underage drinking. “Alcohol advertisements on the M.T.A. are disproportionally targeting communities of color, lower-income communities and also young people,” said Jazmin Rivera, a spokeswoman for Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit.
In a letter to the editor responding to the article, David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote “subways are the way many New York City young people get to school every day. The M.T.A.’s decision will help reduce their exposure to alcohol advertising, and is a significant step in the right direction.”
Ireland has become the fourth heaviest drinking nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of quantity of alcohol consumed, and ranked joint third for binge drinking in an analysis of 194 nations by WHO, according to a new report in Lancet. Irish adults consume on average 11·5 L of pure alcohol per person every year, an increase of more than 100% compared with 60 years ago. Most alcohol in Ireland is now consumed at home and alcohol retailing off licenses have increased by five-fold since 1990.
This study by Adam Bertscher, posted on Open UCT explores the complex policy formulation process in South Africa, using the draft Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill as a tracer case and focused on the alcohol industry, as a central actor, to understand how it – together with other actors – may influence this process. The study concludes that networks of actors with financial interest use diverse strategies to influence policy formulation processes to contest proposed regulation. The implications are that measures to insulate policy development are needed to prevent industry influence potentially undermining public health goals, such as: government to moderate certain consultations with industry; industry to declare conflict of interest; guidelines for bureaucrats and policymakers to advise on whose evidence to consider; and guidelines for bureaucrats and policymakers to assess quality of evidence.
More Americans are drinking high amounts of alcohol, and the greatest increases are seen among women and older adults, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. In the new report, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism compared two large studies of people who self-reported their drinking habits. The first was a study of more than 43,000 adults from 2001-2002, and the second included more than 36,000 adults from 2012-2013. A previous study had shown that between 1971 and 2011, alcohol advertising in the U.S. increased more than 400 percent. The author of the earlier study concluded that since overall per capita consumption of alcohol had not increased in that time, advertising did not affect drinking rates. The new study raises the question as to whether increased advertising has a distinct influence on populations at risk of heavy drinking.
Growing literature documents news media representation of alcohol-related issues. However, current scholarship has neglected critical political economic frameworks to interpret media coverage of alcohol. The case of Ireland from 2012 to 2017 illustrates the authors’ proposed framework empirically. Four main newspapers’ coverage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and related policies are examined. The authors conclude that the media reflect the views of the political and economic establishment on public health measures: there is some support from the medical professions and progressive politicians, but overall, there is a clear reluctance to support strong public health strategies.
Citation: Mercille J. Media Coverage of Alcohol Issues: A Critical Political Economy Framework-A Case Study from Ireland. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(6).
Trends in statutory regulation of alcohol marketing since 2010 by number of countries. Credit
A report on progress in implementation of the WHO global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol since 2010 concludes that while the scope and intensity of national efforts to address alcohol-related harm have increased, resources have not, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where alcohol consumption and related harm are likely to be rising most rapidly. The report was prepared by David Jernigan as background for the WHO Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours. Not a single low-income country reported increases in resources devoted to alcohol policy implementation since 2010. The available evidence shows that progress has been skewed towards wealthier countries, with low- and middle-income countries experiencing increased challenges with alcohol consumption and alcohol control. The “slow-moving disaster” of harmful use of alcohol will not abate without significant further global and national commitment, investment, and coordinated action to increase regulatory and enforcement capacity