Thursday, 4 August 2011

Everybody but everybody has got a part to play. Sometimes.

H/tip to Dick Puddlecote who picked up an opportunity missed on the recent Panorama documentary about drink. The investigator berated UK Health Secretary Anne Milton for the presence of alcohol industry representatives in policy discussions on alcohol. He neglected to remind her that her own policy document on tobacco directly contradicted this sentiment.
10.1 The government takes very seriously its obligations as a party to the World Health organization’s framework convention on Tobacco control (FCTC). The FCTC places obligations on parties to protect the development of public health policy from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. As a result, the tobacco industry has not been involved in the development of this Tobacco control plan.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recommends preventing tobacco industry interests from influencing health policy. Earlier this year, the policy was applied to alcohol at a summit in Scotland hosted by Alcohol Focus Scotland and ASH Scotland. Meanwhile south of the border, according to Panorama, health bodies withdrew from the consultation discussions on alcohol policy because they felt the alcohol industry had too much influence. Said Anne Milton to the investigator:
"We have to talk to people that we disagree with, but it's really important because, actually, when you look at public health - and alcohol as a public health issue - what we need to do is employ every tool in the box. And everybody, but everybody, has got a part to play."
The expectation among health bodies now appears to be that industry should get pushed out, and that the correct answers on alcohol involve price, marketing and availability. While Anne Milton is correct that all parties have legitimate interests, the logical conclusion of her position is that the demands of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control makes inclusive decision making impossible. However Panorama's reporter clearly shares the health lobby's view that the alcohol industry's presence in policy discussions gives it too much influence. The way to modify this influence however is for 'health' groups to stay involved, and not walk out of discussions just because they don't get their own way.

Chris Snowdon provides some historical perspective on drinking rates


Bill Gibson said...

All very silly this regarding Industry representation. Here we have an industrial body who advise the World Health Organisation on Alcohol Policies yet is being totally ignored by Governments North and South of the Border. I refer to the International Centre for Alcohol Policies

who have studied and advised on various issues globally.

I can also point to the Alcohol Education and Research Council who have both Industrial and Health representation

So, it appears that yet again the politicians are telling porkies and are rewriting the rule book to suit their own agenda yet again.

Bill Gibson said...

The drinks industry are up to speed ... more so than the politicians

Social Responsibility from two companies that I have had good working relationships over many, many years

The Edrington Group

Diageo Group

Bill Gibson said...

I could not resist a further post

The Brussels Declaration on Scientific Integrity

Alcohol Control

Please endorse this document of global importance.