Who runs alcohol policy in Brazil?
© 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 Society for the Study of Addiction
Who runs alcohol policy in Brazil? Until the last few years alcohol was not regarded widely as a serious public health issue in Brazil. As a result the country did not have an active public health policy on alcohol. This has changed, partly because of the work of the Brazilian Association for the Study of Alcohol and Other Drugs (ABEAD), and also because of a constructive working relationship between ABEAD and the government department responsible for alcohol policy, the
National Anti-Drugs Secretariat (SENAD). Unfortunately, however, a series of events in 2004 changed this relationship markedly and we are now seriously concerned about the direction of government policy and the influence of the alcohol industry. To explain our concern we will sketch a brief history of what has happened in Brazil since 2003.
In 2003 AmBev (the biggest beer company in Brazil with 70% of the market, and since its merger with Inter-Brew the second biggest in the world) approached some key figures in the alcohol field in Brazil, including several past presidents of ABEAD, asking to talk to them. Most declined. One, however, from the University of Sao Paulo, accepted and subsequently started an AmBev-funded website, the Centre for Information on Alcohol (http://www.cisa.org.br),whose main purposewas ‘to generate a source of information on health and alcohol’. We found this industry-funded website a disturbing development,as we believe strongly that there is a direct conflict of interest here. An ‘alcohol education project’ cannot be funded by an industry which has, in the past, shown scant regard for scientifically based public health policies on alcohol, and used aggressive tactics to undermine them.