Who counts the real cost of alcohol abuse? | Alcohol

Any research published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies should be taken with a grain of salt (alcohol abuse costs £27 billion a year in England, May 17). The IAS receives most of its funding from the Alliance House Foundation, the modern version of the temperance movement. The AHF website states that “to this day we continue to promote total abstinence as a lifestyle choice, but we do not intend to impose it through legislation.” It goes on to say: “We make financial grants to other charities that align with our goals and objectives. “We are the largest donor to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.”

However, the IAS not only receives most of its funding from the temperance movement, but also shares some senior staff with the AHF. The Rev Dr Janet Tollington and Michael Carr are trustees of the IAS and are also members of the board of directors of the AHF. Since the IAS is aligned with the goals and objectives of the temperance movement (otherwise the AHF would presumably not fund them), in all of these circumstances there is a risk that their research could be affected by confirmation bias.
Shaun Whitfield
Beverly, East Yorkshire

The Guardian is right to highlight the immense costs to society of harmful alcohol consumption. This takes many forms, which is why the government needs to develop a multi-dimensional alcohol strategy. I smiled wryly when I read the comment from the Portman Group (longtime advocates of beverage producers) about “the significant direct economic contribution” of the alcohol industry. They never talk about the important direct economic contribution made to politicians and their parties.
Woody Caan
Former Chairman of the Alcohol Special Interest Group, College of Public Health

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