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Alcohol industry corporate social responsibility initiatives and harmful drinking: a systematic review

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JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
DateAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 25 Apr 2018
Early online date25/04/18
Original languageEnglish


Background: There is growing awareness of the detrimental effects of alcohol industry commercial activities, and concern about possible adverse impacts of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, on public health. The aims of this systematic review were to summarize and examine what is known about CSR initiatives undertaken by alcohol industry actors in respect of harmful drinking globally.

Methods: We searched for peer-reviewed studies published since 1980 of alcohol industry CSR initiatives in seven electronic databases. The basic search strategy was organized around the three constructs of 'alcohol', 'industry' and 'corporate social responsibility'. We performed the searches on 21 July 2017. Data from included studies were analyzed inductively, according to the extent to which they addressed specified research objectives.

Results: A total of 21 studies were included. We identified five types of CSR initiatives relevant to the reduction of harmful drinking: alcohol information and education provision; drink driving prevention; research involvement; policy involvement and the creation of social aspects organizations. Individual companies appear to undertake different CSR initiatives than do industry-funded social aspects organizations. There is no robust evidence that alcohol industry CSR initiatives reduce harmful drinking. There is good evidence, however, that CSR initiatives are used to influence the framing of the nature of alcohol-related issues in line with industry interests.

Conclusions: This research literature is at an early stage of development. Alcohol policy measures to reduce harmful drinking are needed, and the alcohol industry CSR initiatives studied so far do not contribute to the attainment of this goal.

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© 2018, The Author(s)

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