The Hidden Role of the Alcohol Industry in Youth Drinking in Brazil

, Ph.D.Affiliations
Universidade Federal de São Paulo Departamento de Psicobiologia Rua Botucatu, 862 1° andar Ed. Ciências Médicas. CEP 04023-062 – São Paulo, Brasil
, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.Sc.Affiliations
NEPSIS (Núcleo de Pesquisa em Saúde e Uso de Substâncias) Department of Psychobiology Universidade Federal de São Paulo São Paulo, Brasil
, Ph.D.Affiliations
Department of Psychiatry Universidade Federal de São Paulo São Paulo, Brasil
Published Online: November 18, 2015

Dear Editor:

Alcohol consumption is an issue of worldwide concern because of the variety of problems it can cause. Young adults are a particularly vulnerable sector of society, because of not only the high alcohol consumption in this age group but also their risky health behaviors associated with drinking (White & Hingson, 2013).

In Brazil, an ongoing research project involving 60 colleges’ sport organizations has found that 58 of them have established formal contracts with the alcohol industry (Pinsky, 2014). These contracts include advertising rights and the exclusivity of specific brands in exchange for a reduction in the price of beverages. According to these organizations, the availability and reduction in price has enabled the organization of college “open-bar” parties, in which students have unlimited access to alcohol by paying a single entrance price. In this research, 52 of the 60 sports organizations reported that they organize these kinds of parties.

Over the last few months, the Brazilian media has reported several cases of death and sexual abuse among drunk undergraduate students attending these parties. In one case, a 23-year-old engineering student died after consuming more than 25 units of alcohol at an open-bar party (Villar, 2015). These cases are bringing about an increasing debate about alcohol in society, but the blame has usually fallen exclusively on the students. Harm-reduction approaches are rarely considered or discussed, compared with initiatives to prohibit these parties. Moreover, the role of the alcohol industry itself has not been part of the discussion.

In the international context, the vested interests of the alcohol industry have received increasing attention (Babor et al., 2010). The failure to attribute any responsibility to the industry for the increased availability of low-priced alcohol and recent alcohol-poisoning events among Brazilian undergraduate students is unfair to the individuals concerned. The situation in Brazil adds to the need to broaden the debate and to collect evidence regarding the role of the alcohol industry in increasing alcohol consumption and the consequences of this among young adults worldwide.

Babor, T., Miller, P., & Edwards, G. (2010). Vested interests, addiction research and public policy. Addiction, 105, 45. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02664.x.
Pinsky, I. (2014, June). The relationship between the alcohol industry and university athletics organizations in Brazil. Presented at the 40th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society, Torino, Italy.
Villar, S. (2015, February 28). Estudante morre e 3 são internados por coma alcoólico após festa. Estadão São Paulo. Retrieved from http://sao-paulo.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,estudante-morre-e-3-sao-internados-por-coma-alcoolico-apos-festa,1641953
White, A., & Hingson, R. (2013). The burden of alcohol use: Excessive alcohol consumption and related consequences among college students. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 35, 201218. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3908712
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