spiritNEWS June 2023

Editorial by Manu Giró, President of spiritsEUROPE

One year has passed since I signed the foreword of last year’s Annual Report on Responsible Drinking Initiatives (RDI). During the past months, the way that public recommendations and guidance on alcohol consumption are sometimes framed and conveyed, including in the mainstream media, has evolved. In some of the headlines, articles and papers the rhetoric seems to be moving away from nuanced guidance and advice along the lines of “less is better” towards a more alarmistic tone and blunt form of advice such as “less is better, none is best”.

This shift in tonality is concerning. Most importantly, it does not seem warranted from a scientific point of view. Quite simply, it is not backed by robust real-life data. Time and again, the body of evidence has shown that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a balanced lifestyle – and that it is not associated with an increase in overall mortality risk. This being said, it is important to also inform consumers about the fact that the harmful consumption of alcohol carries severe acute and long-term health risks – and that nobody should drink for health reasons or benefits.

The gradual loss of nuance in communications may, in fact, undermine sincere attempts to promote responsible drinking and reducing alcohol-related harm. It is an approach comparable to turning the dominant road safety message for car drivers into something like this: “Be alert, there is no such thing as safe driving; every time you get behind the steering wheel, you risk having an accident, and the more you drive, the more likely you are to break your neck”. For a myriad of valid reasons, this is not how road safety campaigns are designed today.

Admittedly, the analogy isn’t perfect, yet the broader point here to consider is the following: to promote responsibility, you need responsible communications. So when it comes to guidance on alcohol consumption the rule of thumb is: if you want to raise health awareness and understanding among consumers and empower them to make informed, responsible choices, do provide fact-based, actionable guidance about low-risk levels and patterns of drinking. And do provide comprehensive information, in context, about the risks associated with harmful consumption levels and patterns, yet do not resort to blunt advice triggering fear, uncertainty or doubt. 

Fortunately, this is exactly what is happening in many countries around the world which communicate on low-risk drinking guidelines accompanied by nuanced prevention messages. And this is the source of motivation and inspiration for us with regards to our long-standing commitment to responsibility-enhancing actions across Europe. In the Responsible Drinking Initiatives Report 2023, you can read about different campaigns and initiatives all of which aim to provide actionable, meaningful and evidence-based advice to consumers to help them make informed choices and adopt a balanced lifestyle which may (or may not) include the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.

I invite you to read the full report providing an overview of the work done by my colleagues at national level to reduce alcohol-related harm and promote responsible drinking. I hope you will find the information helpful and inspiring – stay safe, stay moderate!


Manu Giró

President of spiritsEUROPE

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