An independent report has claimed that the four-year responsibility deal between the government and the drinks industry has not only failed, but it has actually harmed public health as well. It also states that promises have been broken and that too little is being done to reduce serious problems such as underage drinking.
The assessment was conducted by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) who have commented:
“The responsibility deal appears to have been the main element of the UK’s alcohol strategy in recent years and has been used by the industry to resist more effective policies. If this is the case, the deal has worsened the health of the nation and so must be considered a failure.”
The IAS discovered that under the deal, drinks producers have shunned policies that would have worked because it would have hit their sales figures and shockingly, instead promoted approaches that do not work and then exaggerated the impact that these failed policies actually made.
The Director of the IAS has confirmed that in recent years, both hospital admissions and death due to alcohol have continued to rise despite promises from drinks manufacturers that they were doing all they can to help reduce such cases. The organisation continued:
“Perhaps most worryingly, the report indicated that the deal may have delayed evidence-based actions that would save lives and cut crime, such as minimum pricing. To call this a ‘public health responsibility deal’ for alcohol is laughable as almost every independent public health body has boycotted it. We can’t afford to keep prioritising the needs of big businesses over public health.”
The measures that the industry have taken include improving the labelling of cans and bottles to include drinking guidelines, warning labels and unit alcohol content but there is no evidence to suggest that this is working.
Industry-funded body, The Portman Group has criticised the report by saying that retailers have taken 1.3 billion units of alcohol out of the market, limited the number of units in single-serve cans and voluntarily labelled 80% of products with important health information.
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