Diageo ‘really believes’ in tackling binge drinking

6th March, 2015 by Annie Hayes

Diageo has said its campaign to tackle binge drinking in Ireland is one it “really believes in” following criticism the group is using the initiative as a “smokescreen”.

Binge-drinking-study

The campaign will call on the public to join in a society-led action plan to make out-of-control drinking an unacceptable part of Irish culture by 2021

Led by an independent board, the Stop Out Of Control Drinking organisation plans to tackle the excessive drinking culture in Ireland and change behavior in a “sustainable manner”.

The campaign is funded by Diageo, and will call on the public to join in a society-led action plan to make out-of-control drinking an unacceptable part of Irish culture by 2021.

It already has the support of celebrities such as Gordon D’Arcy, Kian Egan, Una Foden, Ronan O’Gara, Eoghan McDermott and Derval O’Rourke.

However, since the announcement was made, Diageo has been called out for its involvement in the campaign, with critics branding it a “smokescreen” initiative to boost the company’s credibility.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout, member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, told the Irish Independent: “What we need is evidence-based strategies formulated by public health experts that go to the heart of alcohol misuse.

“This smokescreen initiative uses the good intentions and reputations of respected organisations and celebrities to try and appear credible. The tobacco industry used similar tactics in the past and people aren’t falling for it.”

Meanwhile, more than 50 individuals and organisations have signed an open letter against Diageo’s involvement in the campaign.

Yet David Smith, director of Diageo Ireland and campaign board member said: “This is a campaign that we at Diageo really believe in.

“We have always sought to work in partnership with others on the issue of alcohol misuse. Real cultural change can only happen with collaboration.”

Fergus Finley of charity Barnardos, also defended the company’s involvement – telling the Irish Independent that the work the campaign would carry out would be fully independent.

“This will be an honest and strong campaign that will hold a mirror up to something that is unacceptable to Irish society,” he said.

“We are starting a process that will take a number of years and we’re determined that it will play a serious part in achieving that goal together, by creating a well-considered plan for getting to grips with something that is deeply ingrained in our culture.”

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