Who’s counting the true cost of alcohol abuse?

<span>‘There is a serious risk that the research could be affected by confirmation bias.’</span><span>Photograph: Getty</span>
‘There is a serious risk that the research could be affected by confirmation bias.’Photograph: Getty

Any research published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies should be treated with caution (Alcohol abuse costing £27bn a year in England, 17 May). The IAS receives the bulk of its funding from the Alliance House Foundation, the modern iteration of the temperance movement. The AHF website states that “to this day we continue to promote total abstinence as a lifestyle choice, but we are not seeking to enforce it by legislation”. It goes on to say: “We make financial grants to other charities who align with our aims and objectives. We are the main donor to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.”

However, not only does the IAS receive most of its funding from the temperance movement, it also shares some senior personnel with the AHF. The Rev Dr Janet Tollington and Michael Carr are trustees of the IAS and also serve as board members of the AHF. Given that the IAS is aligned with the aims and objectives of the temperance movement (otherwise the AHF presumably would not fund them), in all these circumstances there is a risk that its research could be affected by confirmation bias.
Shaun Whitfield
Beverley, East Yorkshire

• The Guardian is right to stress the immense costs to society of harmful drinking. This takes many forms, which is why government needs to develop a multidimensional strategy for alcohol. I did have a wry smile when I read the comment of the Portman Group (long-term advocates for drink producers) about “the significant direct economic contribution” of the alcohol industry. They never talk about the significant direct economic contribution made to politicians and their parties.
Woody Caan
Former chair of the alcohol special interest group, Faculty of Public Health

• Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication in our letters section.