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The ethical question of alcohol


“Guinness is Good for you!”

So proclaims the famous 1940’s advertising poster for the iconic stout drink. But really? When we look back at some vintage advertising of alcohol brands, it’s hard to believe they were allowed to make the claims they do.

Right up to the 1980s, ads for alcoholic drinks painted a picture of sophistication, health, affluence and good times, when for many of users, the reality was something quite different.

Even now, you can find alcohol brands as leading sponsors of global sporting events, an apparent link to alcohol consumption and health and success.

The flip side of the coin

Thankfully, times have moved on and advertising bodies have clamped down on claims from alcohol brands that their products improve lives. In fact, all UK ads for alcohol now need to carry a responsible drinking message.

We are all very aware of the negative side to alcohol consumption - health problems, addiction, social issues and domestic abuse, and these are serious issues for many and should not be ignored.

But with the UK alcohol production and bar trade continuing to flourish, generating a boost to the economy, with the entire industry being worth £16 billion*, we have to ask - is the alcohol industry a wholly unethical one?

Social benefits

As well as the well-documented problems associated with alcohol abuse and addiction, the recent boom in the craft beer and spirits industry has brought with it a welcome boost to employment, income and tourism for many local UK towns.

Local pubs, which centre around the sale of alcohol, are seen to be at the social heart of communities, bringing people together and creating closer-knit local societies.

And with a growing number of alcohol producers embracing sustainability, making their production eco-friendly, innovative and even charitable, as well as a rise in the number of community-owned pubs, there seems to be a move towards a more ethical approach to the production and sale of alcohol in the UK.

We have been warned

Restrictions on marketing and sales of alcohol are a welcome step towards a society that is more educated and aware of the problems caused by it than ever before.

Alcohol brands are embracing and promoting the responsible drinking message, but are they just paying lip-service and does the warning go far enough?

As an ethical investment platform, Ethex has been debating these issues, weighing up the pros and cons of the UK alcohol industry and it boils down to one important question. One where we would like to ask for your input:

Can investments in alcohol production ever be ethical?

We’re interested to know what people who have invested via Ethex think about investments in projects that involve alcohol, so we'd really appreciate it if you  could take 2 minutes to complete this short survey to help shape what kind of ethical investing opportunities we offer via our platform.

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