Home > i-mark initiative – supporting independence from alcohol industry influence.

Doyle, Anne (2022) i-mark initiative – supporting independence from alcohol industry influence. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 80, Winter 2022, p. 18.

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The i-mark initiative of supporting independence from alcohol industry influence was developed by the Irish Community Action on Alcohol Network (ICAAN). ICAAN is encouraging organisations to sign up to the initiative, join the movement, and use the i-mark logo in their work. In doing so, organisations can demonstrate their independence from alcohol industry influence and funding.

Rationale for initiative

The i-mark was developed in response to concerns about the conflict between the motives of the alcohol industry and the health and wellbeing of the population as well as the growing influence of the alcohol industry in the areas of partnership, policy, and school-based education.

These connections allow the alcohol industry to gain access to Government and non-governmental organisations and to provide an opportunity to promote solutions to alcohol-related harms and to undermine proven effective measures. Corporate philanthropy and sponsorship have also been used as a way of gaining support from the charity, community, and voluntary sectors while also building trust among the public.

i-mark toolkit

The accompanying i-mark toolkit has been developed as a resource aiming to empower and support organisations by informing them of the impact the alcohol industry has in influencing alcohol policies and actions. Through the toolkit, ICAAN supports those organisations that sign up to the i-mark to be independent from the alcohol  industry. This is achieved by means of:

  • Education – on the conflict of interest in working with the alcohol industry
  • Measures – to be taken to reduce the influence of the alcohol industry
  • Connections – how organisations can work together to reduce alcohol harm.

The toolkit includes a checklist of questions for organisations contemplating using alcohol industry-funded educational resources or accepting funding from the alcohol industry. These questions aim to build awareness and encourage organisations to think about the potential consequences and impact of accepting funding or using their resources.

The toolkit also includes examples of alcohol industry misinformation and confusion regarding alcohol harms. Examples in the toolkit include research reviewing an alcohol industry-funded campaign, intended to highlight alcohol-related harm, which found that the campaign was focused on public opinion rather than scientific evidence.1 International evidence reveals how the alcohol industry provides misleading information about the cancer risks relating to alcohol and of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.2

In Ireland, the alcohol industry’s determined campaign against the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 is evident from the lobbying register record of the number of meetings between drinks industry lobbyists and Government ministers, senior officials, and Oireachtas members during the year in which the Act was passed.

Work of ICAAN

ICAAN is convened and supported by Alcohol Forum Ireland since 2017 and their joint mission is to ‘create and inspire change by working with individuals, families and communities to prevent and reduce the harm caused by alcohol’.3 ICAAN is part of a growing global movement working to reduce the influence of the alcohol industry on people’s lives and the lives of their children. In promoting the i-mark, ICAAN is engaging the charity, community, voluntary, statutory, and education sectors in why it is needed.

Support for i-mark

The initiative has been supported and indeed launched by global expert, Professor Thomas Babor, alcohol policy adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. i-mark is also supported and promoted globally by Movendi International, an independent global movement that aims to ‘strengthen and empower civil society to tackle alcohol and other drugs as serious obstacles to development on personal, community, societal and global levels’.4 

1  Petticrew M, Maani Hessari N, Knai C and Weiderpass E (2018) How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer. Drug Alcohol Rev, 37(3): 293–303. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/27944/

2  Lim AWY, van Schalkwyk MCI, Maani Hessari N and Petticrew MP (2019) Pregnancy, fertility, breastfeeding, and alcohol consumption: an analysis of framing and completeness of information disseminated by alcohol industry-funded organizations. J Stud Alcohol Drugs, 80(5): 524–533. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/31220/

3  Alcohol Forum (2018) About Alcohol Forum – Our Mission. Letterkenny, Co Donegal: Alcohol Forum. Available online at: https://alcoholforum.org/about-us/

4  Movendi International (n.d.) Development Through Alcohol Prevention. Stockholm: Movendi International. Available online at: https://movendi.ngo/ 

For further information and to sign up for the i-mark, visit https://alcoholforum.org/i-mark

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Prevention, Harm reduction, Policy
Issue Title
Issue 80, Winter 2022
March 2022
Page Range
p. 18
Health Research Board
Issue 80, Winter 2022

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