Thursday, 25 July 2013

Alcohol industry fights against Scotland healthcare measures

The alcohol industry as a whole, from small scale to large, is resisting changes the policy of Scotland’s government aimed at minimizing alcohol related health issues. In an attempt to bring down the figures of alcohol related illnesses and deaths, and thus reduce the financial burden related to such care, Scotland’s government is attempting to change currentpolicy.

It is unsurprising that the alcohol industry is fighting this change; any industry will naturally do its best to ensure that profits are maximized and steady. While it is arguable that in the case of alcohol there is a moral obligation the industry should bow to, it is not fair to be surprised that the companies responsible for our favourite drinks are not entirely happy with changes in policy that reduce profits.

Dr Jim McCambridge of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is at the forefront of this issue, having discovered that the alcohol industry is being far from open and fair in regards to research. “The public interest is not served by the alcohol industry’s misinterpretation of research evidence and we must consider to what extent we should allow the health of the population to be compromised by these commercial interests.”

In a recent study, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers analysed 27 different submissions made by the alcohol industry to the Scottish cunsulation board. It was found that major companies were negatively dismissing research and evidence that would negatively impact their profitability, while placing emphasis on positive findings.

While certainly controversial and hard to sell to the populace, it has long been the strong opinion of scientists and researchers that, to quote Dr McCambridge ““There is a broad consensus internationally among researchers that the most effective measures to control problems caused by alcohol are to raise the price, control availability and restrict marketing activities.”

The ongoing struggle against commercial interests and honest and effective policy in regards to alcohol is one of major consequence. This is due to the scale of which alcohol is consumed on a countrywide level; even seemingly small alterations to price or marketing requirements and restrictions can have the power to save or negatively impact thousands of lives. It is not out of hand to say that the struggle over this industry and its limitations will be bitter and shows no clear sign of outright resolution.