Arguments made by the alcohol industry in submissions to the WHO consultation for the Alcohol Action Plan 2022-2030
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School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia
Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Australia
Institute of Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1768
Background and Objective: A growing body of research has revealed the strategies and arguments used at the national level by alcohol industry actors to influence policy. To date, however, there has been little research into industry’s arguments in global alcohol policy forums. The 2020 consultation by the World Health Organization (WHO) on a Working Document for the ‘development of an action plan to strengthen implementation of the Global [Alcohol] Strategy’ provided an opportunity to critically examine industry perspectives and arguments in relation to global alcohol governance. Methods: Forty-eight alcohol industry submissions were coded in NVivo. Directed content analysis was used to examine the policy positions and arguments made by industry actors. Thematic analysis was employed to further explore the framing of industry arguments. Results: In framing their arguments, alcohol industry actors positioned themselves as important stakeholders in policy debates; differentiated ‘normal’ drinking from consumption that merits intervention; argued that alcohol policy should be made at the national, rather than global, level; and supported industry self-regulation or co-regulation rather than cost-effective public health measures to prevent harms from alcohol. Conclusions: The alcohol industry actors’ submissions to the WHO’s 2020 consultation repeated some of the same positions and arguments that industry actors have been found to have made in domestic policy processes. Their arguments could be seen as efforts to stymie improvements in the global governance of alcohol. The arguments appeared to have had some, but not complete, traction in the creation of the Alcohol Action Plan. There are moves towards improving global governance of alcohol in the future. The industry can be expected to continue strong advocacy against such developments.