Alcohol industry launches body to fight back against misconceptions about booze

Alcohol industry launches body to fight back against misconceptions about booze

The drinks industry has launched a new lobbying body in a bid to re-balance the public conversation around alcohol consumption away from binge drinking myths and health scare stories.

The Alcohol Information Partnership describes its mission as "ensuring that the debate in UK society around alcohol and alcohol misuse remains balanced".

This involves raising awareness of information that is arguably not reflected by the media coverage and popular understanding of alcohol, such as the fact that binge drinking is falling. It has declined especially among 16- to 24-year-olds – by 33% since 2005.

Other statistics the group are keen to publicise include:

  • The number of children aged 11-15 who have had an alcoholic drink has fallen 28% since 2005

  • In the same time, the proportion of secondary school children who thought it was ok to get drunk fell from 46% to 24%

  • Alcohol-related hospital admissions for under 18s have fallen 46% since 2008, and by 8% in the last year

The campaign is funded by eight major companies that predominantly make spirits: Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Campari, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Remy-Cointreau, Moet Hennessy and Beam Suntory. Although some of these produce wine, and Diageo owns Guinness, none of the largest brewers or winemakers are involved.

It is led by director general Dave Roberts, former chief executive of the National Clinical Homecare Association.

Roberts said: "Alcohol misuse is an incredibly serious issue. As a society, we should continue to have rigorous debate about how best we continue to tackle and reduce alcohol misuse.

"But the debate has become increasingly imbalanced and characterised by poor representation of the evidence. Too often the facts have been dramatised or exaggerated in order to scare people and skew the debate. The reality is that binge drinking is in decline in the UK – particularly among young people – and the vast majority of people enjoy a drink responsibly.

"The Alcohol Information Partnership is here to bring balance back to the debate and remind the public that having a drink at home or in the pub can still be a part of a balanced lifestyle as long as it is drunk in moderation."

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, welcomed the launch of the body. He said: "We hope [the AIP] will bring much needed scrutiny and balance to the debate on alcohol.

"We look forward to AIP's contribution, especially new data and insights, with a view to improved and broader provision of a credible, tested evidence base."

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