The Australian alcohol industry is taking a leaf from the tobacco industry and has promised to voluntarily devote ten percent of its advertising space to promoting web sites that discourage binge drinking, particularly among youth. The strategy is an exact copy of that used by the tobacco industry to defuse the youth smoking issue. The formula is: 1) lament the problem, in this case alcohol use and binge drinking; 2) define industry as part of the solution, to avoid being seen as part of the problem; and 3) assure the industry gets a seat at the policy table, where it can then influence the "solutions." Another tactic is funding public health groups to carry out educational programs, thereby winning their cooperation and rendering them unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them. The industry-financed ads portray alcohol use as an individual choice rather than a public health problem, and do not mention policy measures proven to be effective at actually reducing alcohol consumption, like restrictions on advertising, licensing and retailing, or tax increases.
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