Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Booze warnings: patronising state

The same government that made alcohol available 24/7 now want to make 'health warning' labels mandatory.

Rumour has it that the Department of Health is considering mandatory health warnings on all alcoholic drinks in the style of tobacco products.

I don't know about you but I've never met anyone -not a single person - who's ever quit smoking after reading health signs on packets of fags. Like, NOT ONE.

Introduced in the early nineties, warnings such as "Smoking kills", "you're gonna die" and "What a piece of shit you are for smoking" were made to cover at least 30% of a cigarette pack in 2003 - presumably a measure for the inattentive. Most recently, "picture warnings" have also been introduced, along with measures to "hide cigarettes under the counter".

But with alcohol the contradictions will just be comedy material. Here's a government that makes a substance available 24/7, practically everywhere, but then goes apeshit that those bottles and cans don't carry a clear enough warning that the same substance is bad for you.

In fairness, eradicating booze culture in Britain is no easy feat. If anything, the problem's spiralling out of control. Ask any foreigner and one of the first things they'll tell you is that Britain's a country of pissheads, that they've never spotted such massive amounts of binge drinking anywhere else and that, put next to an average Brit, Boris Yeltsin looked like a teetotal.

Watch most British TV programmes, dramas or soaps and every other scene takes place to a background of one or more stressed out characters knocking back a shot of whisky, vodka or other.

Someone said somewhere that a large sign on both fags or booze saying "Thank you for your contribution to the tax man" would probably make a stronger impact. The Government should definitely give that one a go.


Anita said...

I think you're being quite harsh on the government.
Warning labels don't mean that alcohol is being made illegal.
At worst the warnings are not going to do any harm, are they.
If they can put off just one person every thousand that would be a good thing.
I agree though that binge drinking is endemic and that there's no easy solution.

Stan Moss said...

It remains a mystery why they generally manage better in Europe.

But this...?Whatever next? - specially trained bar staff in pubs and bars to admonish those who dare to have more "units" than the Government says we should?

socialist sam said...

More contradictory libertarian claptrap from this blog. Congrats.

claude said...


Libertarian claptrap from this blog? I guess you mean this or this?

Me thinks you're redrawing the boundaries of the expression "talking out of somebody's arse"...

Acidfairyy said...

What the seem to forget, is that binge drinking is as old as time itself. My parents binge drank (underage as well!). So did their parents. And probably so did their parents. It's certainly not a new thing.

I always knew they'd come for the drinkers after the smokers. I said it, and nobody believed me. Ha!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I am actually a huge fan of massive warning labels and see no problem in making alcohol available but making the health implications really clear.

Emma said...


You must love reading 'claptrap' then, because it doesn't stop you coming back, does it?


claude said...

Off topic, Daniel. You're a well-travelled person. Do you agree that the Brits outdrink the rest of Europe, at least in terms of binge drinking? If so then, why?

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Factually, Eastern Europe drink far more than the Brits and to far more damaging effect to both health and society.

Excluding Eastern Europe, Germans and Belgians drink more beer than us and the French more wine, all these three nations suffer from the health repercussions of drinking but not so the socio-economic repercussions that are here in the UK.

The UK is not as bad as all that and is getting better in my opinion but obviously, our culture, with regards to alcohol, is not great, we sanctify it, make it forbidden and thus bingeing and excess are an issue.

And it is only recently, socially speaking, that our draconian drinking laws, which further created our dysfunctional relationship with booze, have been dissolved.

It takes times for social mores to change.

That's my two pence worth of lay knowledge.

claude said...

I think it's true some nations drink more than the Brits. Statistics suggest so, especially in Esatern Europe.

But apparently the problem with the UK is binge drinking, downing booze all in one go. And...above all, definitely in my opinion, is the aggression related to alcohol and the booze-fuelled violence and shenanigans, stuff you don't encounter in other countries, at least not to the same extent.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

In my opinion, two factors are at play, we are still slowly moving out of the 'drinl a lot in a short space of time' mentality that our previously backward thinking laws encouraged in us.

Change takes time.

Alcohol is a depressant, it used to to be the case and to a degree is still true, that Brits are emotionally repressed folk, thus, alcohol takes the lid off that and in us has particularly violent effects.

Pure personal hypothesis may I add.