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“Alcohol industry has no role in formulating policy”, says WHO Director General

The World Health Organisation has spoken out against industry involvement in alcohol policy at the national level, with the intention of using its safeguards against conflicts of interest in future interactions with global alcohol producers.

Responding to an article about the Statement of Concern that appeared in the British Medical Journal earlier this year (April 2013), Director General Dr Margaret Chan confirmed the WHO view that “the alcohol industry has no role in the formulation of alcohol policies, which must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests”.

More than 500 public health professionals, health scientists and NGO representatives from 60 countries have signed the joint Statement of Concern, which raises concerns about the conflict of interest between multinational alcohol companies and public health policies designed to tackle alcohol harm.

The Statement was drawn up by the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance in response to public announcements made in October 2012 by 13 of the world’s leading alcohol producers, in which they claimed to be implementing the WHO Global Alcohol Strategy.

Dr Chan also expressed gratitude on behalf of WHO “to the many researchers and civil society organizations that keep careful watch over the behaviour of the alcohol industry”, and has invited representatives of the statement’s authors to meet senior WHO management to explore their concerns in greater detail.

To read Dr Margaret Chan’s full response to the BMJ article, please follow this link.