As the strategy acknowledges, “one size does not fit all” when it comes to alcohol policy, and its implementation at Member State level will have to take into account many issues. These will include cultural and religious contexts, public health needs, and available resources and capabilities. Not all of the suggested areas for intervention will be given the same degree of priority in every Member State; the strategy represents a flexible menu of options, and the recommendations are non-binding. It will be up to Member State governments to decide which of the areas are most relevant to their particular needs.
In a similar way, industry members, including producers, retailers, trade associations, and social aspects organizations, will need to decide how and where to focus their efforts most effectively, working either individually or collectively. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is the need for such decisions to be made quickly and for programs and partnerships to be put in place as soon as possible: WHO will be drafting its interim report on implementation of the strategy in the second half of 2012, and industry efforts will need to be documented if they are to be considered relevant to that report, or used as the basis for a parallel report.
There is a very large number of different industry bodies that will have a role to play in supporting the strategy. This is a challenge, because it makes it more difficult to have careful coordination of industry activities. It is also an opportunity, because the potential for developing new activities or for extending the geographical reach of existing activities is substantial.
Whatever the local situation, industry members have the opportunity to:
- Demonstrate initiative and active engagement with the priority areas identified in the strategy
- Implement programs at national level in support of the strategy
- Encourage and support initiatives where they are currently absent or weak
- Build partnerships and collaborations that support the strategy
- Evaluate initiative outcomes and impact
There is no single right model to define the way in which industry may choose to work together; a flexible approach is essential. But examples of how this could be done include:
- Individual companies, SAOs, or trade associations acting alone at country level
- Several industry members, possibly from a single sector, working together, at country or regional level
- Industry members working in partnership with other stakeholders, including governments and civil society organizations