The alcohol, tobacco, and junk food industries make £53 billion every year from harmful consumption of their products, finds a report by the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA).
They urge a crackdown on industries profiting from “risky consumption,” blaming the government’s failure to regulate, causing a £31 billion economic burden and straining the NHS.
The group stated that:
Big businesses are currently profiting from ill-health caused by smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods, while the public pay the price in poor health, higher taxes and an under-performing economy.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, President of the BMA and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said that:
As funding to public sector services dwindle, the industries peddling these harmful products line their pockets with billions in revenue. It’s time that the government puts the health of our nation before the profits of industry.
The study finds £81.5bn is spent each year on unhealthy products.
The coalition is calling on government to put in place a comprehensive strategy to prevent ill-health from commercially driven risk factors, and redress the balance between industry influence and the public’s health.
Recommendations in the report include:
- The Government should take a coherent policy approach to tobacco, alcohol and high fat, salt and/or sugar foods, with a focus on primary prevention.
- Health should be prioritised through a cross-government approach to prevention.
- Public health policymaking must be protected from the vested interest of health-harming industry stakeholders.
- Spending on prevention should be treated as investment.
Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman, who said: “The government must learn from the lessons of tobacco control and regulate all harmful products so that our society promotes good health, instead of constantly pushing us to consume products that actively harm our health.”