In the Doghouse

International Alliance for Responsible Drinking: Giving Global Alcohol Producers a Voice, Again

July 9, 2015

With announcements for its new web site and public statements from its president/CEO, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) continues its quest to give alcohol producers a voice.

Oh, wait a minute - that was the tag line for the Global Alcohol Producers Group (GAPG), half of the merger with the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) that created IARD. The new industry tag line is about action on alcohol and global health.

To anyone familiar with the alcohol producer responsible drinking and corporate responsibility shell game, this is nothing new. Alcohol producers have a new group, name, CEO, and website. The 12 alcohol producers behind IARD (Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi Group, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Kirin, Molson Coors, Pernod Ricard, and SAB Miller) also funded ICAP and GAPG.

Big Alcohol producers believe IARD will allow them to engage even more with all key stakeholders and influence alcohol policies around the world. As we've seen through the last several decades, that influence means fighting the most effective population-based alcohol policies available, including increased alcohol prices/taxes, reduced access and outlet density, and reduced exposure to alcohol advertising and promotion.

IARD influences policymakers by shifting them away from alcohol as a cause for harm, placing the responsibility for alcohol-related harm solely on drinkers (and in the case of youth, their parents/guardians), all the while growing producer credibility on alcohol policy and regulations throughout the world.

With 3.3 million annual deaths worldwide (5.9% of total) and 5.1% of the global burden of disease due to alcohol, we can't wait for IARD to lessen its grip on promoting its funders' actions to influence alcohol policy worldwide. IARD is not a public health NGO.