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BMC Public Health. 2018 Jun 28;18(1):808. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5722-0.

Can internal tobacco industry documents be useful for studying the UK alcohol industry?

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Department of Health Sciences, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK.
Department of Health Sciences, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK.



The release of internal documents now available in the Truth Tobacco Documents Library has offered important insights into the machinations of tobacco companies. These documents potentially offer additional insights into the nature of the alcohol industry, due to co-ownership and collaborative working across industries. This proof of concept study aims to build on the few examples of internal tobacco company documents being used to study alcohol industry activities, to identify the scope of information available on the UK alcohol industry.


We identified the principal company names of the major national brewers, including predecessor company names, until the late 1990s, contemporaneous to the bulk of the tobacco documents. Using these names as initial search terms, we searched the Library to identify relevant material. Documents returned were then analysed for evidence of alcohol industry connections to the tobacco industry in the UK.


We found evidence of significant relationships between the two industries including previously unidentified data on co-ownership and cross industry shareholding; informal help-seeking between sectors; collaboration on issues of common interest; and cross industry ties via third party service providers, membership of common organisations and participation in shared events and platforms.


These findings call for further research to analyse in greater depth the information identified here, and to explore alcohol industry activities and links with tobacco companies in other national contexts. This preliminary investigation suggests there is much valuable data available in the Truth Tobacco Documents Library that can serve to guide research on the alcohol industry.


Alcohol industry; Alcohol policy; Tobacco documents; Tobacco industry; UK

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