Drinkaware out to silence the critics

10 July, 2008

The Drinkaware Trust is preparing to launch a range of responsible drinking campaigns in an attempt to silence its critics.

Retailers have agreed to install Drinkaware-branded point-of-sale signs to encourage sensible drinking over the next couple of months. The group is also working to redevelop its website with new interactive elements for visitors.

Fresh campaigns will also target specific "at risk" groups - teenage drinkers and "consistent" adult drinkers who are unaware of the potential health risks of drinking to excess.

Criticism of the Drinkaware Trust has grown louder in recent months, amplified by the abrupt departure of chief executive Jean Collingwood after less than a year in the job.

One industry source told OLN there was frustration at perceived disagreements between Trustees, who range from drinks industry officials to health professionals: "There's been a considerable amount of funding and you have to question how the money being put in is being used."

Derek Lewis, who became chair of Drinkaware four months ago, admitted the group had to raise its profile. "Up until this point, we have not done a great deal more than put the foundations in place. There has perhaps not been as much happening as there should have been, and I can understand those who say 'you've been around for 12-18 months but we haven't actually seen a great deal of activity'."

Lewis said Drinkaware was now "in business" and that key meetings in the last couple of months had secured fresh support from major funding bodies.

A new chief execuitve is set to be in place this autumn. Lewis said the selection process was at an advanced stage and that he was "encouraged by the interest we have had and the calibre of the people".

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