Diageo steps down from the board of alcohol awareness campaign

Following weeks of controversy surrounding the company’s involvement with the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign, Ireland Country Director for Diageo, David Smith has confirmed that he is stepping down from the board.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar welcomed the withdrawal which was made on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show.

Mr Smith said that the alcohol awareness campaign had started a “great debate” and that he was “acting today to make sure that any question about the lack of independence is being removed”.

“The whole campaign has not been a mistake,” he stressed. “I’m glad we got involved in the campaign. I may not have sat on the board if I’d known it was going to cause so much controversy.

“Tackling alcohol misuse in Ireland and this campaign are far more important than whether Diageo is on the board or not.

“As we step away, I wish the board luck and good luck to anything going on in Ireland to tackle alcohol misuse. It is really important for the country”.

The campaign was launched in February but quickly became the subject of controversy which included the resignation of three board members.

According to RTÉ News, Diageo will be continuing to fund the campaign “until the publication of its report in six to eight weeks, but added that most of the €1m allocated had already been spent”.

A statement from the Stop Out of Control Drinking said it welcomed Diageo’s decision to continue to fund the campaign:

“It [David Smith’s withdrawal] is also a reiteration of our total independence to produce a national debate, and a strategy that will seek to change the drinking culture within Ireland. Finally, it is an opportunity for reasonable and fair-minded people to reassess any initial scepticism about the motives of this campaign”.

(Lead image via Stop Out of Control Drinking Facebook page)

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