"Drink responsibly” messages function as one tool in the alcohol industry’s marketing toolbox to promote, grow loyalty to and build credibility for its brands. The “drink responsibly” slogan also serves as a public relations distraction for alcohol corporations fighting evidence-based, effective policies such as increasing alcohol taxes, restricting alcohol advertising, and maintaining state control of alcohol sales. There is no evidence to show that “drink responsibly” messages are an effective strategy for reducing alcohol consumption or related harm. Much like Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking campaigns, alcohol industry facades like “drink responsibly” are counterproductive and could backfire, increasing intent to use the product instead of decreasing alcohol-related harm.
To stop the industry’s cynical, self-serving “drink responsibly” charade, we offer these recommendations:
- Industry should stop including "drink responsibly" messages in any of its advertisements and promotional materials.
- State and local agencies should refuse "drink responsibly" messages, materials, and related industry funding.
- Alcohol prevention and public health advocates should also refuse “drink responsibly” messages, materials, and related industry funding. Instead, they should organize to advance alcohol policies that effectively reduce alcohol-related harm.
- State attorneys general should investigate the possibility that alcohol companies are engaging in misleading and/or deceptive marketing by using “drink responsibly” messages.
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