Global alcohol policy and the alcohol industry

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009 May;22(3):253-7. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328329ed75.


Purpose of review: The WHO is preparing its global strategy on alcohol, and, in so doing, has been asked to consult with the alcohol industry on ways it could contribute in reducing the harm done by alcohol. This review asks which is more effective in reducing harm: the regulatory approaches that the industry does not favour; or the educational approaches that it does favour.

Recent findings: The current literature overwhelmingly finds that regulatory approaches (including those that manage the price, availability, and marketing of alcohol) reduce the risk of and the experience of alcohol-related harm, whereas educational approaches (including school-based education and public education campaigns) do not, with industry-funded education actually increasing the risk of harm.

Summary: The alcohol industry should not be involved in making alcohol policy. Its involvement in implementing policy should be restricted to its role as a producer, distributor, and marketer of alcohol. In particular, the alcohol industry should not be involved in educational programmes, as such involvement could actually lead to an increase in harm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Breath Tests
  • Ethanol* / blood
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Industry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Marketing
  • Public Policy*
  • School Health Services
  • United States


  • Ethanol