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And an analysis of whether they have succeeded or not

Report on efforts from alcohol companies to influence WHO alcohol action plan

Alcohol companies and their lobby groups are systematically working to undermine and water down global alcohol policies that would reduce the harms associated with their products, according to new report.

The report from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR), written by Robyn Dwyer, Robin Room, Paula O’Brien, Megan Cook and Deborah Gleeson, and was released on January 21 by the Foundation for Alcohol and Research Education (FARE). It found that alcohol companies deliberately worked to water down the World Health Organization’s (WHO) draft of the Global alcohol action plan 2022-2030 to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. According to the report, the alcohol companies had two primary focuses: 

1. To respond strongly to proposed actions that would further limit industry’s role and participation in global (and regional/national) alcohol governance.

2. An insistence that the Global Strategy and the Alcohol Action Plan should remain focused on the reduction of harm rather than aiming to reduce consumption per se, and that the two should not be conflated. Drinking that was not ‘excessive’ was constituted as non-problematic. 

FARE also published their own analysis of the differences between the Working Document of the Action Plan and the third draft of the Global Action Plan, and found changes consistent with recommendations made by alcohol companies and their lobbyists, including:

  • A decreased emphasis on implementing SAFER initiatives - evidence-based policies that target the price, availability and promotion of alcohol products, as well as policies to improve health services and prevention of drink driving , and
  • changing actions relating to alcohol marketing, enabling alcohol companies to set their own standards and rules rather than governments.