Government in the pocket of the Alcohol Industry
IAS attacks Portman Group influence

The drink industry’s hand is plainly visible in the Interim
Analytical Report on the long-awaited national alcohol policy is the
view of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, published in the current
edition of its journal, Alert.

“…the report contains one particularly glaring omission, any
attempt to relate the level of harm to overall consumption of alcohol,”
states the leading article. “This is akin to developing a national plan
to combat obesity whilst avoiding any consideration of the average
intake of calories.”

Alert points out that this key issue divides the scientific
community on the one hand from the drink industry and the Government on
the other. Striking evidence of this is shown by the disbandment of the
special sub-group of advisers set up to assist the Strategy Unit. This
group presented evidence on the importance of average consumption for
the level of harm but clearly this was inconsistent with the view which
the Government and the drink industry wished to promote.

Alert highlights the role of the drink industry’s Portman
Group in the formation of the Interim Report. Labelling the submissions
made by industry organisations as an “exercise in sustained hypocrisy”,
the journal says that the Portman Group’s offering elevates this to an
art form.

The Portman Group, which in the past has been caught out
offering secret payments to academics to rubbish a major report from
WHO, pays lip service to the importance of “the best available evidence”
and “sound data”, but Alert points out that “the issues on which the
whole debate hinges are conspicuous only by their absence”.

Alert consigns the Portman Group to “pariah status in the scientific community”.

Alert, Issue 3, 2003, is available on the IAS website at www.ias.org.uk