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Why the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia is not a credible partner for the Australian government in making alcohol policy

Authors

  • GEOFFREY MUNRO

    Corresponding author
    1. Australian Drug Foundation, Melbourne, Australia
      Geoffrey Munro BA, DipEd, BEd, MA, Director of Policy. Mr Geoffrey Munro, Australian Drug Foundation, 409 King Street, West Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic. 3003, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)3 9278 8108; Fax: +61 (0)3 9328 3008; E-mail: munro@adf.org.au
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Geoffrey Munro BA, DipEd, BEd, MA, Director of Policy. Mr Geoffrey Munro, Australian Drug Foundation, 409 King Street, West Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic. 3003, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)3 9278 8108; Fax: +61 (0)3 9328 3008; E-mail: munro@adf.org.au

Abstract

In 2008 the Australian government increased the excise rate on ready-to-drink premixed spirits or ‘alcopops’ by 70% to reduce their attraction to young people. A campaign against the decision was led by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, whose members include representatives of the world's largest spirits producers and which aspires to partner the government in making alcohol policy. Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia's central thesis appeared to lack substance and sincerity: first, it promoted industry data that were evidently premature and misleading; second, it claimed ready-to-drinks were a safer alternative to the consumption of full-strength spirits because spirits pose a threat to drinkers due to their higher alcoholic content. For spirits producers to concede that drinking spirits is generically hazardous may be unprecedented and contradicts the spirits industry's long-standing opposition to the introduction of health warnings on product labels. Although that admission did not survive the resolution of the case, the effect may be profound, as it might justify the demand for greater control of the labelling and marketing of spirits, and reduce the credibility of spirits producers, and the broader alcohol industry, on matters of policy.[Munro G. Why the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia is not a credible partner for the Australian government in making alcohol policy. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:365–369]

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