Hundreds of millions reached in mission to combat harmful drinking

12 September, 2018 by Andy Young

In 2012, 11 of the world’s leading beer, wine and spirits producers joined together to establish the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), and the alliance has now published a five-year report detailing its initial progress.

The IARD was established with a commitment for the companies to work together to combat harmful drinking and set new responsible standards for the wider industry. The report details how over five years the public, private and civil sectors work together to tackle a common challenge, which in this case included the harmful use of alcohol.

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Some of the IARD’s achievements include:

  • Delivering an average of 347 drink driving prevention programs per year between 2014 and 2017
  • Reaching over six million underage individuals via face-to-face interactions between 2015 and 2017 with messages against underage drinking
  • Over half a billion people (546 million) reached between 2014 and 2017 through media and social channels
  • Specifying that advertising agencies must comply with our responsible alcohol advertising codes in 97 per cent of our contracts with them in 2017
  • The number of local responsible retailing initiatives increased by 66 per cent between 2014 and 2017
  • An average of 224 local responsible retailing initiatives were operating, per year, between 2014 and 2017.

In a statement about the report, the IARD said: “We have achieved a great deal working together and with others, and yet there is still so much more we can do. We’re seeing positive change in many parts of the world, in underage drinking, drinking to excess, and drinking and driving. But, we want to see positive change in every part of the world.”

IARD CEO Chair and Chief Executive of Diageo Ivan Menezes added: “Having reached the end of our five years we can reflect proudly on the tangible difference we have already made, as well as the work we need to do in the future.

“It’s our duty to fight the harmful use of alcohol to help improve global health as well as reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

“Through our Producers’ Commitments, we have laid strong foundations for the work ahead, but recognize there is a lot more to do. But we cannot act alone. Innovative partnerships with retailers, government departments, health agencies and nongovernmental organizations have been instrumental to the progress we have made.”

Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) Executive Director Fergus Taylor welcomed the report and the industry’s ongoing commitment to tackling harmful drinking.

“ABA members are leading the way in Australia, and globally, in the fight against harmful consumption,” Taylor said.

“The downward trends we see locally in key areas like underage drinking and binge drinking both reflect and encourage this important industry participation.”

The report also highlighted a number of the initiatives that have taken place around the world, including the action taken by DrinkWise against drink driving in Australia and New Zealand.

The report said: “DrinkWise Australia runs innovative drink driving prevention campaigns and is funded by Australian alcohol producers. It partnered with ride-sharing service Uber in 2017 to discourage racing fans from drink driving by operating the ‘DrinkWise UberZONE’ during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which provided a safe and reliable access point for eventgoers to enter and leave the race course.

“The UberZONE promoted DrinkWise Australia and Uber’s messages about safe journeys and responsible alcohol consumption, with free water for attendees while they waited in comfort for their Uber ride home.”

The IARD also highlighted the work it has done with liquor retailers over its first five years, including an average of 224 local responsible retailing initiatives operating each year between 2014 and 2017 as well as a 66 per cent increase in the number of local responsible retailing initiatives between 2014 and 2017.

The Producers’ Commitments are:

  • Reducing underage drinking
  • Strengthening & expanding marketing codes of practice
  • Providing consumer information & responsible product innovation
  • Reducing drinking and driving
  • Enlisting the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking.

The 11 signatories to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi Group Holdings, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman Corporation, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Kirin Holdings Company, Molson Coors, and Pernod Ricard. A full copy of the report is available on the IARD website.