In the past few weeks I have been mentioning some of the spurious news stories being churned out by the Alcohol Health Alliance which have kept alcohol at the top of the media agenda. I suggested that...
This is not a coincidence, this is a co-ordinated effort which, I suspect, will come to a head when MPs return to Parliament in October. At every turn there is Don Shenker, Ian bastard Gilmore and all the rest of the tax-it, ban-it, cover-it-up brigade.
There is definitely something afoot.
Indeed there was something afoot. Today, slightly earlier than I anticipated, that 'something' arrived, in the form of a 58-page document produced by the British Medical Association and titled 'Under the influence - the damaging effect of alcohol marketing on young people'. But it's not just about marketing and it certainly isn't just about young people (who - how many times must it be said? - are not allowed to fucking drink anyway).
Sure enough, on page 2:
This publication has been endorsed by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK.
You can bet it has, seeing as the headline proposal is, as The Sun put it:
Ban all booze ads, say medics
But the headline proposal is the least of it. A total ban on alcohol advertising, marketing and sponsorship is just one element of the BMA's nine-point plan - a plan that should remove any doubt that drinking has become the new smoking. Of particular note are:
Minimum price levels enforced by law
Annual, above inflation tax rises on alcohol
Reduction in licensing hours for pubs and off-licenses
Restriction on the number of premises that can sell alcohol
The complete prohibition of any drinks that are deemed to "appeal to young people more than adults"
Windfall tax on the alcohol industry, using the money to set up yet another "public health body to oversee alcohol related, health promotion and
The lead author of this report is one Professor Gerard Hastings, who is not qualified to practise medicine but who does have a PhD in Social Marketing from the University of Strathclyde. He is a member of fake charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, and he is well-versed in the tactics of neo-prohibitionism from his time working for the Cancer Research UK Centre for Tobacco Control Research.
Does he sound like the sort of bastard who would punish the many for the sins of the few? Darn right, he does.
While it is important to target interventions at people facing particular
problems with their drinking, an evidence-based policy should aim to lower total
alcohol consumption in the population as a whole.
As with tobacco control policies, reducing alcohol-related harm in the UK
requires a comprehensive strategy that promotes individual behaviour change across society as a whole
Is he the kind of person to demonise the drinks industry? Why, of course.
The vested interest of the industry in the development of effective alcohol control policies is evident. As with tobacco, putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop – or at least putting him on a par with the farmer – is a dangerous idea.
If you have time, I recommend reading the whole thing. It's mind-blowing how far these quacks want to go make alcohol (as they put it) "a little less normal". Fanaticism, paranoia and a total inability to recognise personal liberty pervades its every page. Section 4, for example, is hysterically titled 'The Web of Alcohol Marketing Promotion' (ooh!) and includes this gem:
This web becomes even more tangled when indirect media references are taken into consideration – from soap opera’s set in pubs, through the plethora of drinks references on greetings cards to radio DJs bragging about their hangovers.
Alcohol consumption in the UK has increased rapidly in recent years
Er, not if by "recent years" you mean the last five years, as the report admits on page 9:
the figures peaked in 2003-04
...over a third of adults regularly exceed the Government’s recommended
Only because you've changed the way you measure how much people drink. Besides, the guidelines were "plucked out of the air" in the first place.
the UK is among the heaviest alcohol consuming countries in Europe
No, we are twelfth in the list of the heaviest drinking countries in Europe. You fucking liars.
In the UK, alcohol marketing and promotion is regulated via voluntary codes governing creative content.
No, as a spokesman for the Advertising Standards Agency has already pointed out:
"Contrary to the BMA’s report, the UK Advertising Codes are not voluntary. The
codes are amongst the strictest in the world.
"The ASA rigorously enforces the rules and does not hesitate to take action if the rules have been broken."
alcohol is frequently used as a promotional tool – or loss leader – to attract customers into supermarkets.
So we keep being told, but has anyone actually seen it happen? I have never seen alcohol on sale below cost price and God knows I've looked. If it ever happens at all, it certainly does not happen "frequently." At best, this is a half-truth.
The difference between the retail price index and the alcohol price index has also fallen, meaning that the rate of increase of the price of alcoholic drinks, relative to all retail items, has decreased.
No, the opposite has happened. Since 1980, alcohol prices have risen 19.3% above the Retail Price Index (see p. 83 of this PDF from the Office of National Statistics). Have I mentioned that these people are liars yet?
Naturally, at the heart of this hideous illiberal crap is yet another scheme for the state to steal more money.
In order to reduce alcohol consumption among young people, the level of excise paid on alcohol should be increased
Suck. My. Balls.
This increased taxation would not only reduce consumption levels, but could also
contribute much needed funding for public health research and education
Well, fancy that. It's another bunch of nest-feathering, rent-seeking, thieving, public sector cocksuckers who want to take your cash and spend it on themselves. Fuck right off, Alcohol Health Alliance - you're not getting one more penny from me. I'll kill myself with my own moonshine before I pay the wages of any more unelected puritans.
And finally, here's the BMA spokeswoman to remind us that doctors are still very confused about what their role is in society.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the head of BMA science and ethics, said: "The BMA is not
anti-alcohol. As doctors our focus is to ensure that individuals drink sensibly so they do not put their health and lives in danger."
For which there is no more succinct reply that to quote from the Daily Mash:
Emma Bishop, a marketing executive from Twickenham, added: "How's about this? As an adult, I think a reasonable daily limit is me drinking as much as I fucking want.
"If it affects my work I'll get sacked. If it affects my relationships I'll be all lonely and sad.
"And as for my health, following a quick glance at my tax bill I've decided that the NHS will treat me and the government can keep its fucking opinions to itself."
Amen to that.