FARE has slammed BWS for partnering with Dry July, comparing it to tobacco companies supporting a lung cancer charity.
Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), told The Guardian: “Unless every BWS outlet shuts up shop for the month, this stunt will do nothing to reduce alcohol harm.
“This is a cynical marketing exercise by BWS designed to push the Woolworths’ alcohol brand and normalise alcohol.”
The Dry July Foundation challenges people to go alcohol-free for a month to raise money for cancer patients.
Thorn said the partnership was “completely wrong” because of the link between alcohol and cancer.
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Terry Slevin agreed, telling ABC News the “very clear and solid evidence” linking alcohol consumption to cancer risk made the partnership both “surprising” and “disappointing”.
BWS operates more than 1340 stores around Australia and is encouraging its sales staff to join the fundraiser. It hopes to field the largest corporate fundraising team to date, with BWS staff raising $3,418.22 so far and being ranked 13th on the team fundraising ladder.
BWS announced it’s partnership with the fundraiser last week, with a press release that was headlined: “BWS becomes ‘Because We’re Sober for Dry July’.”
BWS chief executive Guy Brent told The Age the retailer was proud to support Dry July.
The bottle shop chain said it was encouraging customers and staff to sign up to Dry July, provide donation points in its stores and promoting alcohol-free drinks to Dry July participants.
“Of course, if anyone fancies a beer we have some tasty no alcohol ones at BWS so you can raise a glass without breaking the challenge,” Brent said.
Dry July chief executive Brett MacDonald said: “BWS teaming up with Dry July might seem like an unlikely partnership, but it’s one we have no doubt will help increase awareness of what we do, and raise even more important funds for cancer patients and their families and carers.
“BWS have shown a real commitment to the cause with team members going dry during July and supporting customers taking part to stick to their no alcohol commitment.
“They recognise the shift in attitudes and behaviours to alcohol consumption in Australia, and stock many non-alcoholic options in their stores for our participants.
“Over the last few years there has been an increase in the amount of non-alcoholic options on the market, with plenty of non-alcoholic options in store, this has allowed BWS to get on board in a genuine way.”