Vested Interests in Addiction Research and Policy. Is the alcohol industry delaying government action on alcohol health warning labels in Australia?


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Abstract

AimsThis paper examines the strategies and arguments used by segments of the alcohol industry to delay the introduction of mandatory health warning labels on alcohol containers in Australia. These strategies are compared with those used by the tobacco industry to delay the introduction of warning labels for cigarettes.MethodsSubmissions made by members of the alcohol industry to the Australian Government's review of labelling and Parliamentary Inquiry into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders were analysed.ResultsSegments of the alcohol industry have delayed the introduction of mandatory alcohol health warning labels in Australia by questioning the rationale and evidence base for labels; arguing that they will cause damage to public health and the economy; lobbying and seeking to influence government and political representatives including through monetary donations; and introducing its own voluntary labelling scheme. The arguments made by these organizations against the introduction of mandatory health warning labels for alcohol are flawed and their empirical basis is limited.ConclusionThe Australian Government has delayed the introduction of mandatory alcohol health warning labels in Australia by 2 years, until at least December 2013. The campaigning of some parts of the alcohol industry appears to have been instrumental in this decision.

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