Diageo and alcohol-awareness campaigns

 

Sir, – Fergus Finlay (“Everyone – even drinks companies – needs to challenge our drink culture”, Opinion & Analysis, February 23rd) writes a beautiful tale about drinks companies wanting to stop out of control drinking, but I’m afraid I’m not swallowing it.

Diageo is a behemoth that owns the world’s best-selling whisky, vodka, liqueur and stout brands (Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys and Guinness). It also owns Smithwick’s, Gordon’s and Captain Morgan, The company has a 34 per cent stake in LVMH, giving it a key trade in Hennessy and Moët & Chandon. Diageo’s revenue figures were £16 billion in 2013.

The Diageo website outlines the company’s commitment to responsible intake of alcohol products. Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard do exactly the same thing in relation to tobacco regulation, but nobody believes Big Tobacco so why believe Big Alcohol?

Diageo’s involvement in any campaign to promote responsible drinking is Faustian at best and absolute nonsense at worst. Ireland’s drinking problem is attitudinal and behavioural. If Diageo were serious about reducing harmful alcohol use, it would be on board with efforts to end sponsorship of sports events by drinks companies. That campaign somehow fell off the Government’s radar.

It’s a question of “put your money where your mouth is” for Diageo. I’ll believe it when I see it. – Yours, etc,

AISLING TWOMEY,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – News that the Government is standing up to the tobacco industry is encouraging. It would be great if this public health momentum could now used to tackle the alcohol industry, and in particular its relationship with sport. Alcohol has great appeal but it is a drug nonetheless, and the one that has inflicted the most damage on our nation. The drinks industry is complicit in this, constantly looking for new ways to push its product, while at the same time trying to appear socially responsible.

Diageo’s “Stop Out-of-Control Drinking” campaign and its rolemodels.ie website are the latest industry attempts to present a caring image.

The World Health Organisation has warned against such non-evidence-based campaigns. It says drinks companies use community partnerships to build credibility while continuing to undermine meaningful change. It is an old tactic used by the tobacco industry.

We’re told the new awareness campaign is independent yet Diageo initiated it, the head of Diageo Ireland is on the board, and Diageo is funding it.

The secretariat for the campaign is Goddard Global in the UK, which also provides secretariat and lobbying services to the tobacco industry.

Industry initiatives like this, including drinkaware.ie, don’t succeed in tackling health problems because, at their core, they’re just not meant to. – Yours, etc,

RUAIRÍ­ McKIERNAN,

Dublin 3.

A chara, – Why not get Japan Tobacco International involved in a smoking-awareness campaign? – Is mise,

LOMAN Ó LOINGSIGH,

Dublin 24.