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Industry’s pledges to limit harms of alcohol are unlikely to work, research finds

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1671

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  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The “responsibility deal” on alcohol launched by the government in 2011 is unlikely to be effective, a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has concluded.

The pledges made under the deal—which seeks to enlist the drinks industry to make voluntary changes to its products and marketing to limit the harms of alcohol—are likely to be ineffective or would have happened anyway, the team said.

Even where progress has been made, such as in the launch of lower alcohol products, the researchers declined to award any rosettes. Cécile Knai and her colleagues said that they would prefer to have seen reductions in the alcohol content of existing drinks combined with price incentives, such as making weaker drinks cheaper. The launch of new products that widen the market runs the risk of increasing demand rather than reducing it, they said.

The deal and a parallel one on food have been criticised by public health bodies since they were launched. Few gave them any chance of succeeding; the new research will add force to their criticisms.

Knai and colleagues …

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