March 13, 2011 - Drinks giant Diageo has cut its ties with Scotland's most prominent alcohol awareness charity, Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS), over controversial moves by the campaigning group to link the impact of alcohol to that of smoking.
The company, which makes Johnnie Walker, Bell's, Guinness and Smirnoff, has retaliated against AFS after being frozen out of a conference next week which the group is co-hosting with anti-smoking lobbyist Action on Smoking and Health.
Next week's summit will hear from public health experts such as Dr Laurence Gruer of NHS Health Scotland and Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians. Sir Ian backs a minimum unit price on alcohol and restrictions on the sale of drink. (Scottish Alcohol and Tobacco Policy Summit, Tuesday 15th March 2011, Hilton Grosvenor Hotel, Edinburgh)
Edinburgh-based Diageo has written to AFS, arguing it is "misleading and unjustified" to suggest smoking and drinking should be tackled in the same way when there is evidence that responsible drinking causes no harm. Having given Alcohol Focus £140,000 (225,064.00 USD) in recent years, it has also decided to redirect funding to other alcohol education programmes.
AFS said it had decided not to invite drinks firms to the summit because organisers did not want "vested interests" involved in a discussion on possible public health reforms.
Reference: Diageo severs ties to drink awareness body in row over smoking by EDDIE BARNES, The Scotsman, 3/11/2011.
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