Alcohol Use Disorders (94) Do people understand the harms of alcohol? (17)

26 February, 2024

Dear Joseph,

Although I also continue thinking that the public health message is very important to adequately inform the population and policy makers about the risks of certain products, I painfully learned that only increasing people's knowledge: does not enough.

I used to think like you, but many decades of experience in tobacco control have made me see that no matter how much public health efforts were made, it was not possible to counteract the influence of the tobacco industry on consumers and society just with education. It was necessary to counteract the tobacco industry strategies to influence consumers and the society as a whole.

That industry, like the alcohol industry currently does, spares no effort and resources, through advertising, promotion and sponsorship of its products, lobbying governments, hiring health professionals and financing biased research for their misinformation campaigns, and even threatening governments with litigations to counteract public health efforts.

It is true (and legal) what you say that every industry seeks to "paint a good image of its products for more profit", but when it comes to large multinationals with enormous economic resources that, through hiring excellent and expensive marketing teams, generate marketing campaigns. misinformation and deception, against which the vast majority of countries cannot compete due to lack of resources and technical capabilities, that is an abuse of power.

In short, healthcare professionals must continue to inform the public, not only on the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, but also on the practices of global industries to prevent the public health message from having an impact.

Kind regards,

Dr. Eduardo Bianco

Director, Addiction Training Program for Health Professionals (ATHP)



HIFA profile: Eduardo Bianco is a medical doctor and Cardiologist, Certified Tobacco Cessation Expert with a Masters in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders. Currently, he is Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. Dr. Biancos research examines tobacco control and cessation, and he is a prominent member of several organizations that address tobacco control in Latin America. Dr. Bianco has worked for 25 years in Uruguay and Latin America to promote and train in smoking cessation treatment and tobacco control policies. He is also the former Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance and former Technical Director of the MOH Center for International Cooperation for Tobacco.