Comment - Demonising Alcohol - Politics, Not Public Health
This may be one of the more pointless preachings to the converted I've taken to pen. After all, I'm sure that drinks industry detractors will no doubt read these musings and conclude: “Well, he would say that.”
But, I can't help feeling that the raft of health groups here in the UK that attacked today's Public Health Responsibility Deal have gone about things the wrong way. The deal, announced by the UK Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, sees the Government working with members of the voluntary sector, business, industry and the retail sector to deal with public health issues relating to, among other things, alcohol consumption.
"It's all carrot and no stick for the drinks industry and supermarkets," said Alcohol Concern's CEO, Don Shenker yesterday. He called the agreement a set of "half-hearted pledges with no teeth", drawn up by a Government "seemingly in thrall to business".
Such an approach not only demonises the alcoholic drinks industry, it also makes what should be a broad, public health issue a political one. Surely, when the likes of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians attack a partnership between the Government and the drinks producers, such organisations are stepping boldly - and recklessly - beyond their remit, and into territory where they have little right to be?
After all, what evidence is there that, as these health bodies claim, pricing will solve all the UK's alcohol-related ills?
Many people drink alcohol in the UK, and some drink to excess. I may sound like a stuck record, but to suggest that the industry is the only bad guy in this irresponsible consumption is missing the point.
But, you, dear reader, already know all this.
We would do well, however, to get these health groups back on board. The media in this country is very keen to give opinions such as theirs a platform. And, as Lynden Johnson said, it's better to have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in.
If you'd like more information on the anti-alcohol lobby, take a look at our latest management briefing.
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