UK: Drinks industry should fund "independent" public health charity, say doctors
The UK's health committee is currently running an inquiry on the government's alcohol strategy
An alliance of health groups has called for the UK drinks industry to fund a "truly indepenendent" charity to support public health initiatives, thereby avoiding a "conflict of interest".
In a submission to MPs on the Parliament's health select committee, released last week, the 31-strong Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) has argued that "self-regulation is not an effective strategy due to industry’s conflicts of interest". The submission is part of an inquiry into the UK government's alcohol strategy, published in March.
"It is not the place or responsibility of business to define public health policy or to be responsible for public health information, as in many cases this is in direct conflict with their interests and responsibilities to their shareholders and employees," the submission states.
Drinks companies already contribute to UK alcohol charity Drinkaware, but the AHA says the charity's reliance on industry funding means it has a "very specific remit and limited role in a wide-ranging public health strategy".
Instead, the AHA recommends the industry pays for funding via a "truly independent charity or blind trust".
The submission also calls on the UK to follow a French model, Loi Evin, which limits the exposure of alcohol advertising and marketing to children.
"Children and young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing should be monitored by an independent body, with no representation within this body from the alcohol industry," the submission states.
Meanwhile, the groups also welcome the Government's plans to introdce a minimum unit price - a key part of its alcohol strategy. The AHA says it supports the introduction of a floor level of "at least" GBP0.50 (US$0.78) per unit. The government has said this level is likely to be GBP0.40, but the Scottish administration has indicated it wants to bring in a GBP0.50 unit minimum.
The submission adds: "Once it has been implemented it will be essential to establish an effective mechanism for reviewing and adjusting the minimum unit price over time to account for inflation and rising disposable incomes. The AHA recommends this occurs on an annual basis as a minimum."
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