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4 May 2009
Scientists, universities and community organisations should refuse to take funding from Drinkwise, an organisation established and controlled by the alcohol industry, according to Deakin University’s Dr Peter Miller and Dr Kypros Kypri from the University of Newcastle in a commentary published today in the May issue of the international scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Review.
“Drinkwise is an unacceptable source of funding for researchers and community organisations in Australia. It is part of a global public relations exercise by the alcohol industry designed to maintain profits and muddy the waters around evidence-based strategies such as the alcopops tax,” said Dr Miller, an expert in alcohol and drug addiction.
“This organisation is controlled by the drinks industry. It lacks independence and transparency. Despite its claims to be ‘evidence-based’, it promotes ineffective interventions, such as tepid television advertisements, rather than measures known to be effective that reduce profits, such as increased taxes on alcohol and restrictions on pub trading hours.”
Dr Kypri said: “Only last week, the CEO of Drinkwise made the organisation’s support for drinks industry positions explicit, arguing against ‘fiddling with alcohol tax’ and speaking of the industry’s contribution to the economy. This runs counter to a large body of evidence, including Australian Tax Office data released this week.
“Researchers and organisations funded by Drinkwise will risk having their reputations besmirched as its industry lobbying function becomes more apparent.”
Dr Miller and Dr Kypri encourage the Federal government to break all ties with Drinkwise and call for researchers, universities and community organisations to signal their unwillingness to endorse Drinkwise and other industry-backed public relations organisations.
Professor Robin Room, Editor-in-chief of Drug and Alcohol Review, adds that "Miller and Kypri raise an important issue which any Australian researcher thinking of applying for Drinkwise funding should take into consideration".
Dr Peter Miller
School of Psychology
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