Sally Casswell holds a personal chair in social and health research and is Director of SHORE (a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre) and Co-director of the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Massey University, New Zealand. Her research interests include the development and implementation of healthy public policy at the global level and she co-ordinates international collaborative research on alcohol policy (www.IACstudy.org). She is a member of the World Health Organisation’s Expert Advisory Panel on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Strategic and Technical Expert Group on NCDs, was a founding member and is Chair of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance.
The global nexus of commercial interests in alcohol products and the need for a global response
The market power and profitability of the consolidated global alcohol producers facilitates consumer marketing and political activities designed to expand alcohol consumption in emerging economies of Africa, Asia and Latin America and to maintain their profits in established markets. The digital platforms have become key partners in the marketing and distribution of alcohol products and the collection and analysis of digital data used to target alcohol marketing goes beyond national boundaries. The digital platforms, like the transnational alcohol corporations (TNACs), are not subject to any form of international regulation and the trade and investment agreements which traverse the globe protect the interests of the TNACs and digital platforms. Political influence is enhanced by ‘partnerships’ with public health professionals, scientists, government and inter-governmental agencies and is used to legitimize the standing of the TNACs and their public relations entities in global and national settings. This provides a platform for their consistent and cohesive opposition to effective alcohol policies. The power and global reach of the nexus of commercial interests argues for a stronger global response. The need to address the role of trade and investment, development, financial and digital policies argues for collaborative action from a range of UN agencies beyond the World Health Organisation.