Say what you will about politicians, but they are always looking out for our health and welfare. I should be grateful I suppose, they obviously know best. But I’m not, I wish they’d all bugger off and do something useful like clean their own moat or something.
If you have read any of my previous blogs you can probably guess that the thing that has raised my ire is news that the government want to put health warnings on bottles of alcohol.
To be honest, I don’t really care about them putting health warnings on bottles of alcohol: after all, who is going to take the least bit of notice? And it’s not as if the warnings are all that dire; it’s not in the same league as the ‘SMOKING KILLS’ labels that appeared on packets of fags. The plan is that labels should contain 5 things:
1. the number of units the drink contains
2. drinking guidelines of no more than three or four units a day for men and two or three for women
3. the website address for the Drinkaware Trust
4. a warning to pregnant women and those trying to conceive
5. the words “know your limits”, “enjoy responsibly” or “drink responsibly”.
In fact, labels are already meant to contain this information due to a voluntary code agreed between industry and Government in 2007 and I thought that most of them already did, albeit in small print. It seems, however, that only 15% of alcoholic drinks contain these messages, so now the government is going to get tough.
So, nothing much to worry about then really is it? Think again.
I have already expressed my concern that our dour PM is trying to kill of the pub and I fear that this is his next salvo in fulfilling this aim. Think if you can of a parallel example of this kind of legislation. Of course, I’ve mentioned it already: cigarettes. And look what has happened there. There is a precedent; the nanny state can take action.
If you know me you may by now be shaking your head and accusing me of being a hypocrite. I was, after all, in favour of the smoking ban. It’s true, I was. I am a non-smoker, I detest the smell of cigarette smoke, and the ability to drink in a pub without smelling like a used ash-tray afterwards is fantastic.
However, at the same time I was also expressing concern over the impact of the smoking ban on the pub and the fact that, having won this battle, where was nanny to look next.
I would also argue that smoking and drinking are two very different kettles of kippers. Smokers and teetotallers will argue that they are not, but they are. The only good argument that links the two is the strain that the negative health effects have on the NHS; and even then you get conflicting studies telling you that, in moderation, drinking is good for you, which no-one claims for smoking these days.
Unlike smoking, drinking does not impact on anyone else’s comfort or well-being, so apart from the NHS bills, if I choose to kill myself with alcohol that’s my choice.
Not so, you may say, what about all of the much-publicised violence and drunken public behaviour that puts honest god-fearing folk in fear of their safety? Well, the difference is that’s already illegal and those people should be locked up (but don’t get carried away – only those actually causing serious affray, not those of us just quietly staggering home doing nobody any harm).
Drinking is also a social activity. It gets people out of their homes to gather socially in pubs and clubs. Smokers could argue the same for smoking, but the primary purpose of the pub is drinking not smoking. Of course, ironically, smoking is now a social activity as addicts have to go outside and socially huddle around inadequate heaters to get their fix, but that’s not the same.
Of course, I would say all of that, I’m biased, but I genuinely fear that pubs as we know them could become extinct in my lifetime and that would be a tragedy.
So, if any politicians are reading this, leave alcohol and the pub alone and get back to filling in claim forms and picking on fat kids.