Building on positive trends and partnerships to reduce harmful drinking

Global CEOs commit to further strengthen and accelerate actions to reduce harmful use of alcohol in a letter to Director-General of the World Health Organization

The CEOs of IARD’s 12 member companies – the world’s leading beer, wine, and spirits producers – wrote to Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organization, to reiterate their commitment to supporting public health goals. 

Dear Dr. Tedros,

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to communities around the world. Although the pandemic has heavily impacted our companies, and even more so our customers running hospitality premises, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting public health goals, particularly as the world works towards recovering from the pandemic. As the leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers, and members of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), we are writing to you to reiterate our commitment to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

The last 10 years have seen significant declines in binge-drinking, drinking and driving, and underage drinking in many countries. We want to build on these positive trends and to build on our long history of working in partnership with others to help reduce harmful drinking. Therefore we will further strengthen and accelerate our actions.Specifically we will continue to:

1. Actively support international goals to reduce harmful drinking

2. Deliver on the recommendations presented to our sector in the United Nations 2018 Political Declaration on noncommunicable diseases, in particular by taking concrete steps towards eliminating the marketing, advertising, and sale of alcohol products to minors

3. Support:
    a. Regulatory measures to set legal purchase and drinking ages
    b. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for drivers
    c. National drinking guidelines according to cultural context
    d. The recommendation that women should not drink during pregnancy

4. Enforce stringent codes of conduct to ensure that no positive health claims are made when marketing our products and no association is made between our brands and social or sexual success

5. Actively work towards reducing binge drinking and heavy consumption wherever it takes place, including working with others to refuse sale to those who are intoxicated

6. Commit, through company and sectoral codes of conduct, to never mixing alcohol and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in any product development or reformulation

We made an announcement earlier this year to put age restriction symbols on all our products, subject to local laws and regulations, and to implement further safeguards to prevent minors from seeing alcohol advertising online. We are also developing further actions to reduce harmful drinking, including the area of e-commerce.

We want our actions to inspire and encourage other producers to join us and do the same. The UN’s emphasis on a whole-of-society approach to reducing harmful drinking and the positive recognition of our sector in the 2018 Political Declaration reinforces our critical role. We are working with all sectors of the community to understand their needs and to use our unique contribution, including investment, expertise, technology, consumer reach, and data to achieve these goals.

Our contributions to support communities and the WHO’s ambition to fight against the pandemic are numerous (see enclosed). As the world begins to recover from the pandemic, we remain committed to supporting the WHO, governments, and communities to help address the damaging economic impacts and rising unemployment precipitated by the COVID-19 crisis. In doing so, we believe we can protect lives and livelihoods, as well as make a positive contribution to a safe and sustainable recovery.

A whole-of-society approach has been central to your efforts to combat COVID-19 and we believe that the same approach will help progress the fight against the harmful use of alcohol. We place considerable value on our dialogue with WHO, and are convinced that through this positive, constructive, and continuous engagement, as well as dialogues with other stakeholders, we will succeed in further progressing collective efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Signed: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi Group Holdings, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Kirin Holdings Company, Molson Coors, Pernod Ricard, and William Grant & Sons