The Guardian 12 June 2014
Alcohol firms are adopting contentious tactics pioneered by the tobacco industry by funding charities in order to gain influence inside government, researchers claim in a new study published on Tuesday.
Drink manufacturers, retailers and grant-making trusts have given five alcohol charities donations of up to £1m each in recent years as they have deliberately “used corporate philanthropy as a political device”, according to research by academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Addaction, which works with people addicted to drink and drugs, has received £1.56m during the past three years. That includes £1m from Asda to work with young people aroundon harmful alcohol consumption and £560,000 from Heineken for a variety of projects.
Similarly, the researchers’ trawl of Charity Commission records showed that Mentor UK, which seeks to prevent alcohol-related harm among children, took £421,000 between 2008-09 and 2012-13. It has also accepted a further £100,000 since. That included £371,000 from the drinks company Diageo and £100,000 from two trusts funded by profits from sales of alcohol.
The revelations have caused concern because both charities are the only health groups that remain involved in the coalition’s public health responsibility deal, which tries to reach voluntary agreements with food and drink firms on how to tackle the huge harms associated with obesity and alcohol misuse. They have continued to participate despite all other alcohol charities and medical groups that initially took part pulling out owing to concerns that the process – organised by the Department of Health, which lauds it as a vital contribution to solving public health problems – was too dominated by representatives of the alcohol industry.