PHE and Drinkaware campaign raises some serious concerns

Blenheim are deeply concerned about Public Health England’s decision to run a campaign in partnership with Drinkaware, an alcohol industry funded charity. We believe that the messages used in the campaign are inappropriate and influence people to do nothing, rather than reduce their drinking.

John Jolly, CEO of Blenheim said:

“Blenheim welcome a government-funded programme of health campaigns but this has to be without industry involvement and in-line with the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines to increase public knowledge of alcohol and its links to a wide range of physical and mental health conditions.

From research around social influence and influence psychology we know that people want to conform to the norm. The campaign gives the message most people find it hard to reduce their alcohol use which essentially drives people to do nothing as the take home message is that change is seen as too hard.”

We support the issues raised by Sir Ian Gilmore who resigned from his position as Co-Chair of the PHE Alcohol Leadership Board. Professor Gilmore has raised serious allegations about the launch of the PHE campaign with Drinkaware, including the exclusion of key decision makers from the process.

It seems unethical given the clear conflicts of interest between alcohol industry economic objectives and public health goals that the Alcohol Leadership Board at PHE were excluded from discussions relating to the Drinkaware campaign until all major decisions were taken.

The decision to work with the alcohol industry will undermine efforts to protect the public and Blenheim backs Professor Gilmore’s concerns that PHE bosses are being duped into a partnership that will hamper efforts to reduce the amount Britain drinks. Allowing the alcohol industry to influence public health messages will allow companies to deflect tougher laws using a veneer of responsibility at a time when the Government is consulting on a new alcohol strategy.

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