Saturday, July 04, 2009

Five myths about alcohol

(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)

No. 1 - We are drinking more than ever and 1 in 4 people are drinking at hazardous levels

This claim has been made regularly since May of this year, based on data from the Office of National Statistics. The Telegraph's report was entirely typical: 
One in four drink too much, official figures show.

Ten million people in England – one in four adults – are putting their health at risk by drinking too much, official figures have shown.

'Too much' is more than 21 units a week for men and 14 units for women. The highly questionable nature of these 'daily limits' has been discussed by my gracious host before; he has also recently touched on the changing way in which these units are counted, all of which reinforce the myth that there is a mounting epidemic of binge-drinking.

Since 2007, the Office of National Statistics has assumed larger glasses are being used and stronger alcohol is being consumed. They now assume that a glass of wine contains 2 units, rather than 1, as it did before. With beer, what used be counted as 1 unit is now counted as 1.5, what used to be 1.5 units is now assumed to be 2 units and what used to be 2.3 units (a large can) is now counted as 3 units.

As you might expect, this has made a dramatic difference to the statistics. The graph below shows the percentage of men and women drinking more than their 21/14 unit weekly 'limit' under the old system*:

Nothing to see here, is there? A downward trend since 2000 is evident for both sexes.

But this is how the same statistics look using the new system:



Wa-hay! Booze Britain! Exactly the same data but very different results.

So which is the correct estimate? The ONS is, in my view, a basically honest institution and it seems fair to estimate 2 units are in the average glass of wine. It is less fair to assume stronger beer at a time when two of the biggest selling lagers - Stella and Becks - have introduced weaker brands. 

But wherever the truth may lie, the fact remains that even if the ONS had changed its system 10 years ago, the overall trend would remain downwards. 

That consumption has actually been falling recently - albeit slightly - is confirmed by figures for pure alcohol consumption. These show that per capita consumption peaked in 2004 and has since dropped off: 
Litres of alcohol per person aged over 14 (PDF)

2002: 11.13

2003: 11.34

2004: 11.59

2005: 11.4

2006: 11.0

2007: 11.2

This data is significant because per capita consumption effectively measures the amount of ethanol consumed by a person, which is what the system of units is supposed to do. But while units have to be clumsily estimated, the per capita system measures what has actually been bought and therefore, one has to assume, been drunk.

According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies - no friends of the booze - total alcohol sales have fallen by 13% since 2001/02**. According to the ONS, the number of teetotallers has risen from 9.5% to 14% since 1992. And pubs are closing at the rate of 53 a week. And per capita consumption of pure alcohol currently stands at 11.2 litres, much less than Luxembourg (15.6 litres) and, indeed, less than 14 other European countries. That's your ‘Booze Britain’ for you.


*These figures are shown in table 2.5 of Statistics on Alcohol, England 2009

** Page 8 of Drinking in Great Britain (PDF)



No.2 - Alcohol is cheaper than it was 20 years ago

This forms the cornerstone of efforts to introduce a minimum price for alcoholic drinks by, amongst others, Fatboy Donaldson:
In his report, Sir Liam noted that over the preceding 20 years, the country’s disposable income had risen faster than alcohol taxation, and alcohol had become ever more affordable.

It is true that alcohol has become more affordable. Everything has become more affordable as a result of rising prosperity. Most people would consider this to be a good thing. But relative to other products alcohol has become less affordable.

When inflation is factored in, British households' disposable income increased from 100 to 208.8 between 1980 and 2008. In other words, people can afford to buy more than twice as much as they could in 1980. 

In the same period the affordability of alcohol - thanks to above-inflation tax rises - has only risen from 100 to 175. To imply that alcohol is actually "cheaper" is disingenuous in the extreme.

In fact, as the Office of National Statistics concludes, it is plain wrong:
Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period.

In real terms, as well as in monetary terms, alcohol is more expensive that it was 20 years ago.


No. 3 - There is a worsening epidemic of underage drinking

Here's The Telegraph again:
Teenage drinking epidemic 'causing misery'

Britain needs to wake up to the epidemic of binge-drinking among teenagers and the misery it is causing thousands of families, one of the country's most senior policemen has warned.

He criticised the drinks industry for targeting the young and exporting its "negative costs on to the streets, hospitals and into the criminal justice system".

But only last week the Trading Standards Institute reported:
A survey of 13,000 young people by the Trading Standards Institute found the number of teenagers who drank weekly fell from 50% in 2005 to 38% this year.

Which backs up what they said in 2007:
Fewer teenagers are drinking regularly - partly because it is becoming harder for youngsters to get hold of alcohol, a Trading Standards survey suggests.

And this is supported by figures from the Office of National Statistics (May 2009):
One in five pupils (20%) [11-15 years] had drunk alcohol in the last seven days, a proportion which has declined from 26% in 2001.

Furthermore:
The proportion of pupils who have never drunk alcohol has risen since 2003, from 39% to 46% in 2007.

Underage drinking - at whatever level - is clearly an issue for parents and the police, and yet, Trading Standards exhibited the same attitude of buck-passing as the copper above:
Trading Standards North West, which carried out the poll, said it intended to write to the firms behind these drinks to "seek clarification of the plans for action to reduce their appeal to young people".

That's right. It's "the firms". Not the police, not the parents, not the shopkeepers and not - heaven forfend - Trading Standards. It's down to the manufacturers to stop people buying their products illegally.


No. 4 - Alcohol-related hospital admissions have risen by 69%

Responsible journalists usually follow this little nugget of information with an important proviso:
The number of people admitted to hospital in England with alcohol-related problems has risen by 69 per cent in five years, to 863,000 in 2007-08, although changes to data collection — which now include secondary diagnoses, such as alcohol-related injuries — have contributed to the surge in cases.

These "changes to data collection" do more than merely "contribute" to the "surge in cases" -they are the overwhelming explanation. The redefinition is sweeping and appears to include anybody who turns up in hospital with a trace of alcohol in their blood, as the ONS explains:
“These figures use a new methodology reflecting a substantial change in the way the impact of alcohol on hospital admissions is calculated. The new calculation includes a proportion of the admissions for reasons that are not always related to alcohol, but can be in some instances (such as accidental injury).”

This covers a multitude of sins. As a helpful commentator recently pointed out, alcohol can be linked to virtually any disease, usually very tenuously. Sure enough, the largest proportion of "alcohol-related" admissions involve people with geriatric diseases:
Overall, the number of alcohol-related admissions increased with age in 2007/08, rising from 49,300 admissions among 16 to 24 year olds to 195,300 admissions of people aged 75 and over.

Only a quarter of the 863,000 admissions are directly attributable to alcohol. Not that any of this was deemed worthy of mention by, for example, The Daily Mail:
Alcohol-related admissions to hospitals in England have soared by more than 50 per cent over the last five years, latest figures revealed last night.

Startling data from the Department of Health showed there were 863,257 drink-related admissions in 2007-08, up sharply from 569,418 in 2003-04 - the year Labour's reforms ushered in round-the-clock drinking.

No. 5 - Lager is cheaper than water

This doozy is a favourite of pretend charity Alcohol Concern and has been repeated many times, particularly by the The Daily Mail:
Drunk for £1: Anger as leading supermarkets sell lager for 22p a can

Supermarkets are selling beer at a cheaper price than water, fuelling concern over their role in Britain's binge-drinking crisis.

Despite repeated public health warnings, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda now offer lager at just 22p a can - less per litre than their own brand-mineral water and cola, and cheap enough to allow someone to get drunk for just £1.

Let's ignore for a moment the obvious point that someone wanting to buy water is hardly likely to buy lager on an impulse instead. Let's even ignore the fact that water comes out of the tap for 0.02p per glass.

Instead, let's look at Tesco's own brand lager. Here it is.

It costs 91p for a 4-pack, or 5.2p per 100ml.












And here's Tesco's own brand mineral water. 

It costs 13p, or 0.7p per 100ml.

So please can we put this one to bed now?





Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted something about the own-brand lager - it is piss-weak (2% ABV). Frankly, you might as well drink the water. 4 cans of this stuff equates to about a can and a half of Stella. Hardly enough to get "drunk for £1", although that didn't stop the Mail from printing a hilarious account of someone pretending to do just that.

Away from media hysteria and the medical lobby's hyperbole, the facts are plain: we are drinking less than we did 100 years ago, more than we did 50 years ago and less than we did 5 years ago. We are middle-weights in the European drinking league and the fact that we have a lot of knob-heads causing problems in our towns and cities at the weekend is because there a lot of knob-heads in the UK. The reasons for that is a whole other story, but it has nothing to do with advertising, happy hours or the price of lager. 

It is doubtful that even the British Medical Association really believes that charging 50p a unit or banning Guiness adverts will make the slightest difference to rates of consumption, but that is not really the objective. The objective is to officially identify drinking as 'bad' in the same way that smoking is 'bad'. From that starting point, all else follows.


36 comments:

David Davis said...

Would it be worth buying up the Tesco stuff and distilling it? You could at least make poorish raw bitter whisky with the 75-78-degree fraction, which would come over, although highly-attenuated from the 500ml you put in (you'd get about about 15 ml I'd guess per can) although at about 71% alcohol or about 135-degrees proof.

That'd work out at about 28p a whisky-shot of 15 ml. (You'd better dilute it I guess, to about 28 ml or one ounce, so it's about 40% or 79-deg-proof or it'd taste disgusting, and probably kill you anyway.

Better than the price of the Tesco whisky, and far better than the price charged at your closed pub (you can't even buy Stella there now.)

If the State busts me tomorrow on suss of having distilling kit (I haven't) then you'll all know the Devil is being watched!

Pavlov's Cat said...

With regard to 'units'

I had a pint of Guinness in town last week , it was served in 250 year celebration glass ( so I assume new)

On the back, under the '1 pint' was printed 2.3 UNITS

When did these spurious units( discussed above) actually become official units of measure.

Mr Eugenides said...

Absolutely superb.

Anonymous said...

God almighty.
What a nasty interfering judgmental preaching lying anti-human nosey dictatorial fucking shit hole the UK has become . How I hate the place and all the twats who allow themselves to be fucked over the way they are.

The place is either doomed or building up for an uprising. Not seen a single sign of one yet.

DaveP said...

Of course this bloody government wants to misinform us about booze. They need an excuse to tax it heavily. Look at the crap about man made global warming; just an excuse to put punitive taxes on petrol.

I am presently living in Canada, where you can only buy booze in Provincial Government liquor stores. The high prices in them make my eyes water, but alcohol abuse is still far worse here, and probably, partly because of the terribly high price of alcohol, drug use is worse. I gather the Government is looking at the Canadian model. God help us.

Michael said...

Brilliant post. Sadly this quality of analysis will never make a newspaper. Far too complicated for the "average" reader I'm sure they'd say.

Another point is that in med school I was taught that the safe alcohol limits are actually 21 and 28 units for women and men respectively. The 14 and 21 are used because the government in their nanny role feel we, the public, can't handle the truth! Far better to set a lower level and highlight how many extra people are drinking too much.

The points you make are all valid and that is how a discussion on the science should be done. With the facts. That being said, one person with an alcohol problem is one too many.

Instead of pointing the finger at the 17 year old drinking 22 units a week, we should be looking what's causing a 45 year old to be sleeping in the gutter having drunk 2 bottles of whiskey.

The inappropriate use of stats only serves to distract the public and politicians from the real issues.

The Nameless Libertarian said...

Thanks for the link to the Daily Mail article. I haven't laughed so much in ages What a fucking twunt that woman is.

Bishop Brennan said...

Utterly brilliant post, as usual. I'll share it with someone I know at the DoH...

the a&e charge nurse said...

FS - whichever way you cut it alcohol, or rather excessive alcohol consumption can be very unhealthy both for the pish-head, or cyclist taken out by a drunk-driver (to site just one example of collateral damage).

I have seen somebody literally lose their blood supply in a few minutes (and die, of course) following torrential haematemisis.

There is a general point about addiction being problematic amongst young people, perhaps because they are usually in denial about the long term affects a drug (like alcohol) can have on the body.

And there is something both depressing and distressing about yellow, encephlopathic patients who require daily enemas because the liver has been marinated in alcohol for so many years.

To my mind the message is simple - there ARE serious health risks associated with too much booze and shuffling statistical percentages a few points this way this, or that way doesn't alter this fundamental fact.

I think it is important to remember that serious drinking is hardly ever just about the drinker, either.
Ask the victims of a glassing, or family member whose lives has been ruined by the drink - this, I think, is one of the main reasons the anti-booze lobby tend to get twitchy, especially on a Saturday night.

Personally I don't have strong feelings about the price of alcohol or licensing hours, or what people do or don't do to themselves in private - and I certainly agree that the police have no business intimidating law abiding citizens on their way home from the 'offy.

But given that booze is such a big part of our culture I doubt if a few anxious medics will really make very much difference to the wine bars of Coven Garden or the pubs and clubs in Manchester or Leeds, let alone the drinks aisle in Tesco or Asda?

AndrewSouthLondon said...

Good analysis. If you want any more, the Hospital Admission one is an absolute gold mine. Under the regime of "Payment by Results" more serious causes of admission earn the hospital a higher payment. The upgrading of the seriousness of the condition is triggered by the presence of secondary diagnoses, which clinical coders are now routinely encouraged to record. This makes available more clinically-rich data and more money for the hospital.

Admissions for apparently more complex conditions will have increased solely because of this, in the same way uncomplicated reason for admission will have reduced.

The interpretation of hospital data is notoriously difficult, but not to our Public Health Facists, who will churn out anything to please their masters.

There may well have been an increase, but you cannot trust the public health lobby not to lie, in the same way they lie about the increase in AIDS, most of which is accounted for not by careless teenage sex, but by the arrival of large numbers of already infected adults from Africa in search of treatment.(You just register as a "student" to get rights to NHS treatment) According to Public Health they are people "infected abroad" by which they hope you think "unlucky people on holiday"

Cheers n Booze said...

"Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted something about the own-brand lager - it is piss-weak (2% ABV). Frankly, you might as well drink the water. 4 cans of this stuff equates to about a can and a half of Stella."

Eagle eyed readers will have noted this is what this post is all about. Just another drinker's rant, however cleverly structured.

And well said, Charge Nurse. Just don't expect it to be a topic of conversation at the pub.

Rob said...

A drinker's rant? Careful and reasoned analysis? What do YOU offer in response, "Cheers n Booze", except the same, tired old ad hominem attack, no reason, no evidence?

People don't believe you and others because you mislead, you insult when you should reason, you are arrogant and you believe that we should all believe you just because you are a self-righteous puritan prig.

Your time is over.

thefrollickingmole said...

So basicly their facts amout to saying "bacause they did x=y happened?

Statisticly 100% of people who drink water may die sometime in the 24 hours afterwards.

Tax water. Its for the children...

ENGLISHMAN said...

We are being conditioned to a paranoid existence,everything is deadly,it is a real surprize that we humans have lasted so long,alcohol was discovered/invented about the same time that man began to compose written script,perhaps if we did not drink we would not have to tell each other about it,the only reason that we now have a problem with it is that we are being socially engineered away from the natural,alcohol is an easy way to destroy us culturally.

Anonymous said...

"Away from media hysteria and the medical lobby's hyperbole, the facts are plain: we are drinking less than we did 100 years ago, more than we did 50 years ago and less than we did 5 years ago. We are middle-weights in the European drinking league and the fact that we have a lot of knob-heads causing problems in our towns and cities at the weekend is because there a lot of knob-heads in the UK. The reasons for that is a whole other story, but it has nothing to do with advertising, happy hours or the price of lager."

This is undoubtedly _the_ best paragraph ever written on this subject. Great post.

Drinkers rant? Did you actually read it? It's a well put together post quite clearly showing the current media/government ideas on drinking are _lies_.

A&E Nurse. I'm pretty sure no-one is suggesting alcohol is completely harmless. _Merely_ that government and certain medical associations are doing what they can to 'denormalise' drinking and ultimately stop us from drinking, when to put it bluntly it is _none_of_their_fucking_business_.

Z.

The Englishman said...

Good analysis and calling out of BS. Personally though, I do think Britain would be better off if alcohol was discouraged. Note I do say discouraged not forbidden. I'm no fan of the booze culture.
http://theantipolitician.wordpress.com

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great article as usual, TFS. Why the drinks industry can't find it in themselves to fight back using such evidence, is baffling.

Instead, they are just relying on the perennially-proven failed policy of appeasement.

thefrollickingmole said...

Heres the latest "idea" from our quangioes being considered by out marvellous government here in Oz.

Its exactly what the Devil has been banging on about.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/05/2617115.htm

The Cancer council is a charity that riases funds for "cancer research" on TV. But does crap like this all the time.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Professor Ian Olver says increasing tobacco prices is the best way to reduce smoking rates.

"If you put up the price by 10 per cent per pack, you can actually drive down a country's smoking rate by 4 per cent, which is an enormous impact on health care," he said.

"But Australia has been lagging behind over many years in increasing that price."

I hate smokes, always have, I hate twats that tell me how to live more.

Plato said...

Excellent post as ever.

the a&e charge nurse said...

FS - your item tends to characterise all medics as puritanical bastards - they are not.

Here is a very interesting study that lends support to some, but not all of your concerns
http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/43/2/204

John B said...

A&ECN, I don't understand your 'cyclist taken out by a drunk driver' point. Peter Sutcliffe killed women because he thought God was telling him to; this doesn't mean that they were victims of excessive religion...

Anonymous said...

What a revolting blog! When I see you in Casualty vomiting blood, I'll leave you there.

the a&e charge nurse said...

John B said ........ A&ECN, I don't understand your 'cyclist taken out by a drunk driver' point.

The point is that drinking alcohol is usually portrayed here as a personal freedom - but to my mind this is a form of infantile solipsism.

Drinking can have consequences for others exemplified by this hit and run case.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-530382/Drunk-hit-run-driver-walks-free-court-despite-blinding-artistic-girl-10-crash.html

Alcohol also seems to be a significant variable in certain forms of domestic violence.

Since these are important consequences (for victims) I think any public policy has to reflect this kind of collateral damage and not just the views of those clamouring for a steady, and cheap supply of stella or Johnny Walker?

Devil's Kitchen said...

A&E,

Drink does not beat people up—people do, etc. etc. ad nauseam ad infinitum.

However, if we accept that alcohol has social costs, then it would be perfectly justified to impose Pigou taxes onto alcohol in order to pay for said costs to society.

Since the tax on alcohol almost certainly does so right now, then we need do nothing more.

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

P.S. What we do need to do is to make people pay for their behaviour—whether sober or under the influence.

So, if someone comes to you needing a stomach pumped, then you charge them—on a monthly pay-off if necessary.

If someone beats someone up whilst under the influence of alcohol, then they should be made to pay compensation to the victim—under terms so hard that the perpetrator can barely afford to buy enough food to live, let alone afford alcohol.

Make people pay—directly—for their medical insurance so that they—not the rest of society—bear the cost for damaging themselves and others (a measure which you, strangely, keep opposing).

I'm tired of having to reiterate myself, A&E, but I am going to point it out again—punish the guilty and not the innocent.

DK

Anonymous said...

"Applause."

Superb post.

the a&e charge nurse said...

The Devil said ......... I'm tired of having to reiterate myself, A&E, but I am going to point it out again—punish the guilty and not the innocent.

No, I don't think that is the main point of FS's post, Devil.
Isn't it more about how far we should preemptively curtail certain alcohol related activities because of problems that are likely to arise?

For example, I think you have suggested before that drinking and driving should NOT be an offense?
Indeed, it should only becomes a matter for the courts once a driver kills or maims somebody.
In these circumstances the ingestion of alcohol might then become a factor?

Needless to say such an arrangement would be of scant comfort to the blinded musician (if we take the case highlighted above) and in some respects the fact that alcohol was consumed becomes a relatively insignificant matter since in effect it only amounts to the difference between 6 months or 12 months of porridge.

You and, co-libertarians, like TFS may regard this as an acceptable price to pay for unbridled hedonism while anybody who raises a few innocent queries about the downside of alcohol tends to be portrayed as some kind of Scottish presbyterian.

TFS seems alarmed that that boozing is to be rebranded as 'bad' by a few fussy medics.

Personally I think Carlsberg and Co pump out far more influential messages about alcohol
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1nxxVe5pTs&feature=related

Captain Ranty said...

A&E,

Do you subscribe to this type of "caring"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z71Vv6QAmiw

Just asking....

The Filthy Smoker said...

A & E,
The point of the post was to give some concrete examples of the lies these people tell. By the time we can prove that they are prohibitionists it will be too late, but we can say that they are liars in the here and now, something that nobody on this thread has argued with.

I didn't mention drink-driving and I happen to disagree with DK on that issue (if indeed his views are as you say) which makes that a flaming straw-man.

But you're Goddamn right I'm "alarmed" that drinking is being rebranded as 'bad'. Like many things in life, alcohol can be good, bad or indifferent at different times and in different circumstances. It is not for a bunch of - let me repeat it - LIARS to decide that it is an evil to be wiped out. And wipe it out, they will, if people who drink a mere 4 pints A WEEK are now considered to be a drain on the NHS/danger to themselves/unacceptable.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Well, let me fire a question back at YOU Captain Ranty.

The UK transplants around 800 livers a year, a rather pertinent organ since we are talking about the deleterious effects of too much alcohol.

Now suppose there are x2 very good matches but only one liver (the mismatch ratio is usually much higher but I'm sure you will follow my point).

One subject agrees to strictly follow medical advice knowing a new liver will involve a lifelong regime of anti-rejection drugs, etc.

The other is more inclined toward the George Best model of aftercare and excitedly asks the surgeon how long will it be before he can return to his usual pattern of boozing.

Who would you give it to knowing there is ALWAYS going to be a mismatch between the number of available organs and those seeking a disease free liver?

Devil's Kitchen said...

A&E,

"For example, I think you have suggested before that drinking and driving should NOT be an offense?
Indeed, it should only becomes a matter for the courts once a driver kills or maims somebody."


I have pointed out that someone drinking and driving does not necessarily cause any damage or harm anyone, yes, and, as such, it should not be a criminal offence until they do.

I have said that I do not believe that we should punish people on the basis of probability—else you would lock up every step-father on the basis that they have a higher than average chance of abusing the children in their care, for instance.

"In these circumstances the ingestion of alcohol might then become a factor?"

If they harmed someone whilst drink-driving then, yes, absolutely—they should have the book thrown at them.

"Needless to say such an arrangement would be of scant comfort to the blinded musician (if we take the case highlighted above)..."

That is irrelevant. It would be scant comfort if the person had been sober for that matter.

I'll look out the Home Office figures but, from memory, drink-driving and speeding each caused around 5% of all accidents on the road. The biggest, single factor in RTAs—some 30%—was people "not looking properly".

I look forward to seeing policemen sitting at junctions, watching for people not looking properly, pulling them over and sending them to court to get fined, banned and possibly imprisoned.

Oh, wait! Can it be that the evidence has less than fuck all to do with this?

"... and in some respects the fact that alcohol was consumed becomes a relatively insignificant matter since in effect it only amounts to the difference between 6 months or 12 months of porridge."

Since we are imagining a libertarian criminal justice system, I do not think it beyond the wit of man to imagine that it might make rather more of a difference under said system.

"You and, co-libertarians, like TFS may regard this as an acceptable price to pay for unbridled hedonism..."

Oh fucking YAWN.

Once again, I am fucking sick of repeating this: libertarianism is not hedonism and I have never advocated "unbridled hedonism": no matter how many times you keep trying to spread this lie, it doesn't make it any truer.

Libertarianism means taking responsibility for your actions—hedonism means precisely the opposite.

Libertarians (real ones) are acutely conscious of their responsibility to the non-aggression axiom—it is our god, if you like—and thus are constantly wary of taking actions that might lead to it being broken.

"... while anybody who raises a few innocent queries about the downside of alcohol tends to be portrayed as some kind of Scottish presbyterian."

A&E, you often raise the downsides of alcohol, as you see it. However, you carry on disagreeing with me when I suggest that the people who abuse should be made to pay for it.

But these people featured in the post above are not raising the downsides of alcohol: they are making up figures and distorting evidence—in other words, they are lying.

Figures are not subjective, and evidence is not an article of personal faith: these people are fucking liars.

Now, if you would rather side with proven liars than those who advocate personal liberty (note: not hedonism) then you and I are destined to remain enemies.

But at least I will have told the truth, whilst you continue to support liars.

So, do you support the liars or those who expose them as liars? Are you, in fact, one of those medicos who think that it is fine to tell lies as long as it makes people conform to your idea of what they should be?

It's time to step up to the plate, my dear A&E...

DK

the a&e charge nurse said...

Devil -TFS highlights multiple sources.
I do not think they are all necessarily liars although there may be bias in the way data is presented?

You know as well as I do that it is virtually impossible to be neutral in the field of social science - in other words there is always going to be an implied subtext to any research that quantifies human behaviour, hell even the type of words that are used can have a loaded meaning.

TFS is worried that the sophisticated, and unrelenting advertising messages from the likes of Guinness or Carlsberg will be seriously threatened by a few shrill medics - but personally I see this more of a David and Goliath type face off.
Let's face it Donaldson is hardly a match for the likes of Satchi & Satchi.

Let's just imagine there is a gigantic glass full of booze (representing the UK's overall level of consumption) maybe the level has gone up or down a bit over the last 5 or 10 years but of itself this can only be crude measurement of the EFFECTS of alcohol - particularly the negative affects.

Now trying to quantify these effects (crime, disease, hospital admissions, deaths, etc) is never going to be straight forward because of the numerous co-variables (such as offending patterns, polypharmacy co-morbidity, time-span between alcohol ingestion and subsequent disease, etc, etc).

The central thesis to TFS post is that a concerted attempt is being made to rebrand booze as 'bad' like smoking - yet I have just been admiring my daughters photos from Glastonbury - the group all seem to have a fag, drink, or god knows what else in their hand accompanied by dreamy, happy smiles.

In short I don't believe there is much (if any) of a cultural shift toward prohibition - neither do I believe there is a grand conspiracy being driven by lying medics, or the ginger haired Donaldson.

Incidentally do you extend you drink/drive philosophy to pilots and train drivers (since this group of workers will not have committed any crime until they crash the machine they are responsible for) - and who wold you give the liver to?

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

The Mail bird is a classic media whore as well - it's Jonathan Dimbleby's daughter.

No doubt she got her job based entirely on merit and nothing to do with the old man or lady (Bel Mooney IIRC) pulling any strings.

These people are just fucking nauseating.

sconzey said...

Scuse the necroposting, but I counted it as a triumph of capitalism when I discovered I could furnish my girlfriend's 17th birthday with 64 units of alcohol for £32.

megapad said...

excellent article except you refer to Tesco's own brand still water and not to Tesco's own brand mineral water which is considerably more expensive.

Other than that - I thought it was excellent and I will be forwarding this to everyone I know.

This is perhaps even worse because Tesco has more expensive own brand lagers than the tesco value lagers but the journalists are selectively choosing items with the biggest difference.

When people say Alcohol is too cheap because it can be cheaper than mineral water, I suggest that maybe mineral water is too expensive.

Lysistrata said...

I don't always 100% agree with you, but this post is a masterpiece.
I think I'm going to quote the following - (correcting to "there are.." but I don't care, it was so well said) - to every person I know, and several I don't:

"we are drinking less than we did 100 years ago, more than we did 50 years ago and less than we did 5 years ago. We are middle-weights in the European drinking league and the fact that we have a lot of knob-heads causing problems in our towns and cities at the weekend is because there a lot of knob-heads in the UK."

That has to be the most succinct and best analysis I've read for many years and it almost made me cry with its perfection.

Thank you.