Tag: neo-prohibitionism

| Alcohol, Neo-prohibitionism, Social Trends

Remembering Lunchtime Drinking

So Lloyds of London announced last week that it is banning its employees from drinking at lunchtime.

Under strict new rules, anyone found to have enjoyed a pint between the hours of 9 to 5 faces the prospect of being fired for ‘gross misconduct.’

Having frequently been in City of London pubs at the same time as some of these often boorish drinkers, my first thought was not to spare them any tears. The move comes in response to 50% of disciplinary incidents at the firm apparently having to do with staff members being over-refreshed.

But whatever your views on our financial colleagues, just let that phrase roll around for a second: drinking alcohol during your lunch break is ‘gross misconduct’. Not getting drunk. Not failing to complete your job because you’re pissed. But having one drink.

This ban is symbolic of the ever tightening stigma of drinking alcohol – and of changing public opinion – and I fear it’s the first of many similar measures to come.


But according to YouGov, Lloyds are in line with public opinion. I guess I’m not.

I started my first job in 1991, at an advertising agency in Central London. At that time advertising had a glamorous reputation, but that wasn’t the reason I joined: I just wanted a job that would be different every day, one that would be interesting and intellectually challenging, and accountancy (which is what my university tried to push everyone into) didn’t seem to offer that.

I started as a graduate trainee in the middle of a recession, and to most of the people in advertising, this was the first recession they’d noticed, because it was the first that had had a serious impact on the south east. (Coming from Barnsley, I’d just assumed the early 90s recession was simply a continuation of the early 80s recession – I had no idea that some parts of the country had enjoyed a boom between the two.)

So advertising in the early 1990s was like turning up to a splendid mansion on a Monday morning and finding a Rolls Royce in the swimming pool, fag butts stubbed out in champagne glasses, TVs still smoking from having their screens smashed in, and my new bosses minesweeping empty bottles and greeting me with, “Man, I can’t believe you missed the eighties. It was so great here then. We had such a party, a party like you wouldn’t believe. Where were you? Now get this mess cleaned up, the place is a tip.”

(Don’t feel sorry for me. When I tell this story to people who work in advertising today, their reaction is along the lines of “There were parties here once? Bollocks, I don’t believe you.”)

But there were various hangovers of different kinds from that decade of excess. At least once a week during the 90s, the ‘Jolly Trolley’ would be wheeled down the corridor connecting our veal-fattening pens. It was someone’s birthday, someone was leaving, someone had got a promotion, we’d won a new piece of business – there was always an excuse. Me and the other graduate recruits were usually too busy to join the festivities, but when we finished work around 8pm, long after the party had moved on to the pub, we’d scavenge the Jolly Trolley for unopened bottles to take home. For my first 18 months in London, I practically subsisted on stolen crisps, warm Budweiser and cheap, shitty champagne.

Often, we’d have a mild buzz before the Jolly Trolley even appeared. Frequently, client meetings would run over lunch, and at 1pm a trolley that was only marginally less jolly, loaded with crisps and sandwiches, would be wheeled into the meeting room and unloaded onto the middle of the table. Behind this first trolley, a second full of wine and beer would follow, and people would crack open the booze without even breaking the flow of whoever was presenting acetates on the overhead projector. This was normal. No one even commented on it. From that point, we would drink steadily and moderately until the meeting was over. (I don’t remember anyone ever finishing the meeting pissed.)

I can’t remember when the drinks trolleys stopped. I didn’t notice them becoming rarer and finally disappearing. But some time in the early noughties I was in a lunchtime meeting with Pret sandwiches and cans of Coke and I remembered the lunchtime booze trolley for the first time in many years. I realised that not only had it disappeared; if anyone suggested bringing it back now they would be censured for suggesting something so inappropriate. Somewhere along the line, without it being discussed, the idea of drinking alcohol in a daytime business meeting had become completely unacceptable. Everyone simply knew it was, just as everyone had known a decade previously that its was fine.

Back when advertising was boozier, the ads were much better, and people enjoyed the job more. I’m not going to argue that the presence of booze was the main reason for this; all I am saying is that when people were drinking, the job still got done. Good ads got made and those ads did good business for the clients. The standard of work did not dramatically increase when the booze disappeared. People were made to work harder and longer, but if anything, the quality of the work they produce has declined. Just watch a commercial break if you don’t believe me.

You should be able to trust grown adults to occasionally go to the pub at lunchtime without coming back to the workplace sozzled. If people drink at lunchtime to the point where it affects their work, then they should be reprimanded for it, but the crime should be the sloppy work or unacceptable behaviour, not the drinking itself.

Workplace drinking has beneficial effects as well as negative ones, and while there’s no measurement of them, I suspect they’re more widespread than the bad behaviour. A quiet pint can smooth things over, avoid problems, thank someone, share problems or create bonds.

When I visited Japan for my book Three Sheets to the Wind, I discovered that beer solves an apparent paradox in the Japanese workplace. Japanese salarymen tend to give little of themselves away in the workplace, but will only do business with those they know and trust. How do you get to know and trust someone if the shields are always up? Beer symbolizes a switch from ‘on’ to ‘off’, a ritualised movement from formality to informality, to a time when they are permitted to bond and share.

Maybe they don’t do it at lunchtime, so it’s not quite the same as the plight of Lloyds drinkers. But to ban lunchtime drinking outright, rather than punish any negative consequences of it, stigmatises drinking in general. And if you’re lucky enough to still get a lunch break, it’s your own time. If drinking is wrong at lunchtime, then surely it’s not ideal at other times either? What next: a ban on evening drinking from Monday to Thursday to get rid of the detrimental effects of weekday hangovers?

I have no desire to get pissed with city boys. But thinking about it, and mangling a quote traditionally attributed to Voltaire, when it comes to their drinking, I disapprove of their twattish, drunken behaviour, but I will defend to the death their right to be drunken twats.

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Dry January

This is the strangest time of the year to be doing what I do.

With grim inevitability, we are told that we should all stop drinking alcohol for a month, just to prove we can.

Just as inevitably, those of us who decide to do so are met with sometimes extraordinary hostility by those who don’t want to.

Both sides are now pissing me off.

Any reader of this blog knows where I stand on the cynical creep of neo-prohibitionism. My last blog post is just below this one if anyone has any doubt.

But I try to go dry for January every year, and have done so for years – since long before it became a piece of nonsense to beat people with.

I drink too much. I counsel that we should feel free to drink more than we are told. I rubbish the distortion of data that suggests we’re all drinking ourselves to death. But even by my own more relaxed standards, I drink more than is good for me. I am two stone overweight and am on medication for high blood pressure, and this is related to the amount of alcohol I drink. It’s an occupational hazard, and it’s also more than that. Going dry for January is my way of proving to myself that I still control my relationship with booze. When I do it, I lose weight. I sleep better, and have more energy. When I start drinking again, my tolerance is lower and I drink slower and less frequently. And gradually, through the year it creeps up again, until over Christmas my alcohol consumption is excessive by any standards, and January provides a reset.

When I talk about this, it’s amazing how many people seem to know more about my body and my psychology than I do. The neo-prohibitionists would argue that the above paragraph proves I’m an alcoholic – that if I need to stop drinking for a month, that proves I need to stop drinking altogether. Some idiots even try to say that dry January is dangerous because it encourages people to drink with abandon for the other eleven months of the year – a point of view that garners headlines every year despite having absolutely nothing to back it up.

On the other side, people tell me that detoxes don’t work, implicitly asking me to ignore the evidence of my senses and the bathroom scales. Others seem threatened, like I’m betraying the cause of drinkers somehow. And then there are those who attack January abstainers for ruining the businesses of microbrewers and closing pubs.

This last point is particularly annoying. I appreciate that a campaign suggesting we all abandon pubs for a month might anger people whose livelihoods might be damaged by it. But beer enjoys a cyclical year. In December, pubs were packed. Some drinkers and publicans complain about the Christmas ‘amateur drinkers’ who turn up to their pubs, packing the place out and ordering in annoying fashion as they throw money over the bar. A few weeks later the same people complain that pubs are empty.

Given that pubs know a lot of punters take a breather in January, why not cater for them? Where are the specials on interesting artisanal soft drinks? The promotions on non-alcoholic cocktails? Why not put some detox-friendly dishes on the menu? We get very indignant about the idea that pubs are mere drink shops. We spend all our time saying that they are more than that, that they are important community centres that provide many benefits.  So in January why do we then act as if beer is all they can do?

Just because I’m not drinking for a few weeks doesn’t mean I’ll be going to the pub any less in January. I still want to get out of the house and see friends. But when I do so I’ll most likely be drinking stupidly overpriced lime and soda, having viewed and rejected the range of excessively sugary, crap-filled soft drinks available, and wondering yet again why there isn’t a single dish on the menu that isn’t full of fat, cream or grease.

Dry January, like Christmas and ‘NYE’ before it, is a result of our desire for shared experience. We are social creatures and for the most part we enjoy the knowledge and experience that we are all going through something together. The rise of social media has intensified this sharing. Most of the time that’s good. But it does also create a shared sense of obligation that some of us rebel against. A month ago newspapers were full of articles about What You Must Do To Enjoy The Perfect Christmas, and every one of them had comments below from people complaining that they didn’t want to do Christmas that way, but somehow felt that they were forced to against their will. Why? Now, when Dry January is suggested we either feel we must go along with it as if it’s the law or we get angry and ask ‘Why the hell should I?’

It’s part of the infantilisation of our culture. Being scolded on a regular basis by government, the NHS, and a media that invariably refers to the recommended guidelines on alcohol consumption as limits sits alongside advertising voiceovers that uniformly sound like a parent talking to a toddler, and food packaging and restaurant menus that talk in lower case sans serif fonts about things being yummy and nom.

We buy into this infantilisation. When we nip out for a cheeky scoop, or enjoy food that is tasty but not healthy, we invariably talk about being ‘naughty’, as if we are children breaking the rules. When everyone else breaks the rules with us we feel like we’re getting away with it. When we’re given rules we don’t like and see others conforming, we start behaving like children who have been caught, or stamp our feet and fold our arms and say ‘Don’t want to.’

I say all this because I’m guilty of it, as much as anyone. There is an inner child in me saying “Go on, go for a drink. Because you can. You can get away with it.” It’s not a craving for alcohol per se, more a desire to transgress some rule that is entirely in my own head.

So here’s my New Year’s resolution, which I offer up for anyone else to share: be a grown-up around alcohol, and take responsibility for your own decisions. If you want a drink, have one, and if you don’t, don’t. Going dry for January is my personal way of resetting my relationship with alcohol. If you’re someone who only drinks a couple of days a week you may feel you don’t need to do this. If you’re someone who drinks most days to a point where you’re vaguely concerned it might impact your health, think about what else you might do to counter it. Or don’t, if you don’t want to. If you’d rather go dry for a different month of the year, or try to institute a regimen of at least two alcohol-free days a week, do that instead. If you’re content that your lifestyle is going to be way more fun than anyone else’s but means you’ll probably die of heart disease in your late fifties or early sixties, that’s fine too.

What’s right for me probably isn’t right for you, as we have different histories, hang-ups and habits. But we don’t have to do anything – or refuse to do it – because others are telling us to. I’m going dry for January not because of some sly anti-alcohol publicity campaign, but because it works for me and has done for years. If we were all to simply do what works for ourselves, and not try to tell everyone else what a good or bad idea their course is, it would be a happy new year indeed.

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Stunning hypocrisy proves alcohol regulators simply don’t get the point.

The venue used by a government minister to launch British Tourism Week is BANNED from selling beers above 5% ABV – but faces no restrictions on the wine and spirits it can sell.

“Can I have a Worthington White Shield?”
“No! Fancy a Tequila slammer instead?”

I spotted this story yesterday in The Publican.  At first it was mildly irritating, and then, while I was being pissed off with the total and utter ineptitude of both O2 and my email so-called provider, Fasthosts, I realised I was very angry with this too.

The newly rebuilt Grand Pier at Weston-Super-Mare was used by tourism minister John Penrose, along with Weston’s local MP, to launch British Tourism Week this week.  Presumably, this location was deemed significant because it represents what’s great about British tourism and British culture.

However, the Publican learned that when the pier, previously destroyed by fire, reopened last October, police intervened in the licensing application process and demanded that the owners enforce a ban on beers over 5% so the location would not become “known as somewhere that sold strong beer”.  No such stipulation was made regarding wines and spirits.

So a quality, classic British ale like Worthington White Shield (5.6%) is banned, but shots and shooters are not.

OK, so are they doing this because they hate beer?  Of course not.  They’re doing it because Weston is home to 11% of the UK’s entire stock of drug and alcohol rehabilitation places, and piers in seedy seaside towns are classic venues for hardcore drunks to gather over a few purple tins.

But it’s yet another case of stupid action following reasonable intent.  The pier staff say it doesn’t bother them – presumably they don’t see a market for Belgian ales, American IPAs or even nice homegrown winter warmers and strong ales in the average promenader.

But what if that were to change?  Duvel, for example (8.5%), is growing by 40% year on year and appearing in fashionable bars not normally noted for beer geekery.  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6%) and Brooklyn Lager (5.2%) are similarly breaking out into mainstream pubs, bars and restaurants, but are banned from Weston pier for the foreseeable future.

This is a classic example of our obsession with ABV in beer masking the real nature of the problem.  It’s insulting to brewers and drinkers to show no distinction between them and the tramp drinking Tennent’s Super.

But worse than that, as is always the case with rulings like this, I doubt it does much to help the people it’s meant to.

The eternal frustration in the debate about alcohol is how little attention those regulating it actually pay to the data.  I’ve said many, many times that alcohol consumption, binge drinking, alcohol related disorder etc are all in long term decline.  The one anomaly is that liver-related hospital complaints are still up (or they were until last year, when that figure fell too).  What this demonstrates is that while the total population is drinking less, a particular segment is drinking to increasingly harmful levels.

So what are they drinking?  Well, beer volumes over the last twenty years have gone off a cliff.  But within that total decline in alcohol consumption, wine and spirits consumption is actually up.  Every significant drinking epidemic in history is strongly linked with a sharp rise in spirits consumption, and that’s what’s happening here – the vast majority of people who drink solely to get drunk do so on spirits.  If you don’t believe me, just ask them – I did.

And that’s the real tragedy – the recovering alcoholics of Weston-Super-Mare are still able to go on to the pier and drink as much vodka as they wish.  Meanwhile, beer is yet again made a completely unjustified scapegoat for alcohol abuse.

Ignorance.  Complete and utter ignorance.

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The “culture of binge drinking” and the credulous academics

The latest piece of binge drinking research would be funny it if had been written by a comedian. The fact that it is apparently serious is profoundly depressing.
The BBC today reports that a culture of binge drinking is ‘well-established’ in north-west England. Liverpool’s John Moore university discovered this by going out around town centres on Friday and Saturday nights and interviewing people who they thought looked drunk.
They were horrified to discover that these people were indeed drunk, and that they intended to carry on drinking.
This is, apparently, newsworthy.
Among the shock insights uncovered by this crack team of researchers are:
  • “drinking at home before a night out and drinking later into the night may be associated with higher levels of drunkenness in city centres”
  • “drinkers who planned to stay out due to extended opening hours were the ones intending to drink the most”
So far, so many bears defecating in forests. But the bit I find astonishing, given that this report is coming from a supposedly reputable academic institution which presumably applies a certain amount of rigour to its research methodology, is “one in 10 (15% of men and 4% of women) believing their total alcohol intake would be more than 40 units before going to sleep”.
This gave Sky its headline for its coverage of the story, and prompted Alcohol Concern chief Don Shenker to comment “That some people are drinking over these amounts in a single evening is cause for real concern.”
So let’s get this straight: you went up to a bunch of pissed people on a Saturday night, interrupted their evening to ask them questions about their drinking, and when they told you they intended to drink the equivalent of 20 pints of beer, four and a half bottles of wine or 27 gin and tonics… you believed them?!
Did you also believe them when the lads told you they all had 12 inch knobs and had shagged all the most attractive girls in town?
Either Don Shenker and John Moore University are simpletons who have no understanding whatsoever of how people behave when they’ve been drinking, or they’ve knowingly bought in to a study which any serious researcher would laugh out of the room for its deeply flawed methodology, and cynically presented it as fact when they know it can only be taken at best with a huge pinch of salt.
And as the final link with reality is severed, what picture does the BBC choose to illustrate these supposed 40-units-a-night drinkers?
Go on, have a guess.
Twenty pints of real ale please. We’re all going out to get bollocksed out of our minds on J W Lees Bitter.

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Crackdown on mythical creatures as new Mandatory Code comes into force today

Tinkerbelle: barred from UK pubs under tough government measures coming into force today.

Irresponsible creatures from the world of faerie including pixies, elves and sprites will be barred from pubs under tough new powers introduced from today, announced Home Office Minister Alan Campbell.It is estimated that magical creatures cost the UK taxpayer between £8 and £13 billion a year. The mandatory code introduces five conditions for all alcohol retailers which will ensure consistent good practice and crack down on problem premises where irresponsible drinking by mythical creatures could put individuals at risk and lead to crime and antisocial behaviour. (We said ‘could’, because of course there’s no evidence that it actually does.) The conditions coming into force today are:

  • banning irresponsible creatures such as pixies, elves, sprites, boggarts, kobolds, goblins, orcs and level six halfling thieves
  • banning “dentist’s chairs” where drink is poured directly into the mouths of customers making it impossible for them to control the amount they are drinking – or at least, that’s would would happen if there were any pubs that actually ran them

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:”Like the dentists’ chair promotion, creatures from the world of faerie may not actually exist outside the feverish imaginations of Daily Mail readers and one tacky bar in Newcastle, but just think what it would be like if they did. A minority of them would continue to take part in irresponsible activities which fuel the excessive drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder. I mean, centaurs may not really exist, but you can bet that if they did they’d be right bastards, necking blue WKDs for all they’re worth and shitting all over the floor of their local ‘Spoons. So it’s best that we just take the precaution and ban them. Even though they don’t exist. I mean, it’s easier to find a photo of an elf than it is a dentist’s chair promotion, so if we’re banning the dentist’s chair, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go the whole hog, banning everything else that doesn’t actually exist.”The code will see an end to these entirely fictitious creatures and drinks promotions, ensure premises check the ID of those who appear to be underage or have suspiciously pointy ears, helping to make our government look tough by pandering to a neoprohibitionist that inhabits a strange fantasy world with ever fewer links to reality.”

Bilbo Baggins was unavailable for comment.

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Government report says Mandatory Code on pubs not needed – govt introduces it anyway

Catching up with myself, I thought that overall it would be less embarrassing if I started at the back with the really old correspondence and notes I haven’t yet dealt with rather than starting with what I need to respond to from yesterday.

I’m glad I did, because I’m regretting not remembering and sharing this little treasure earlier: At the end of January, a friend of mine in the industry sent me a link to Home Office’s overview report on regulating the alcohol industry, which was issued by the Government to support the launch of the Mandatory Code a few weeks ago.
My friend D thought the final paragraph of the report was particularly revealing:

Existing legislation
A question that looms in responses across strands and across audiences is whether the regulation
of the on-trade needs as much tightening as the Consultation Document suggests. It is stressed
that most premises are not hubs of crime and disorder. Where problems may arise, many feel that
the enforcement of existing legislation as well as voluntary local partnerships can go a long way in
addressing them. Many measures are already considered good practice and it is questioned
whether further legislation is therefore needed.
In other words – the government produces a report to back up more restrictions on pubs, and that very report concludes by questioning whether further restrictions are needed, but the government implements them anyway, and releases the report that says no further restrictions are needed to support the further restrictions they’ve implemented.
I wanted to use a picture here. This is the space where a picture of the Dentist’s Chair promotion would go, if such a picture actually existed.
And for those of you with long memories – there’s no mention of the Dentist’s Chair promotion anywhere in the report. I wonder when that was inserted as a soundbite? Surely we’re not looking at something here that was ‘sexed up’?

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An open letter to Frank Dobson MP regarding his comments on drinkers

Dear Frank Dobson

I’m just listening to you speak on Decision Time, Radio 4, broadcast on 27th January.

You’ve just claimed – and I’m quoting your words exactly here – that “heavy drinkers cause a vast amount of disorder, get involved in sexual assaults, get involved in accidents and are a major nuisance with loutish behaviour.”

As a heavy drinker myself, I find your comments astonishingly offensive. I have never been involved – even in my youth – in any of the behaviour you describe above, and neither have any of my friends. You are quite clearly implying that if I drink, I am more likely to assault someone violently or sexually.

Your failure to specify ‘some’ or ‘a minority of’ drinkers, or to qualify your claims in any other way, means you are quite clearly claiming that ANYONE who drinks heavily is more likely to carry out such an assault. Having studied NHS and ONS data closely (I’d recommend you do the same) I know for a fact that there is no proof of this. While those who are already prone to sexual or violent assault may well have a drink before carrying out an attack, you are making a grave and slanderous error by implying that alcohol itself makes people more likely to commit such an attack. You are wilfully confusing correlation with causation.

On behalf of myself and the vast majority of drinkers who consume a legal drug that in the vast majority of cases enhances and benefits social interaction rather than damaging it, I demand an apology from you for this appalling slur on our characters, and suggest you check the facts before you open your mouth on this topic again.

As a beer writer, I’ll be copying this email in various channels and urging my many law-abiding, respectable readers to make their feelings known to you in a similar fashion.


Pete Brown

Write to Frank at –
Frank Dobson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AARing Frank on –
020 7219 4452 or 020 7219 5840Fax Frank on –
020 7219 6956Email Frank on

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This week’s dose of neopro distortion and lies

Look, I don’t want to keep banging this drum. But the media assault is now a constant bombardment.

Today’s (or rather yesterday’s) villains are the Daily Telegraph, with the story “Children drinking more than adult safe levels, official figures show.” Thanks to Jeff Pickthall for sending me the article and for finding the actual data – he’s very bullish about stuff like this.
Nowhere in the Telegraph article does it give you an actual percentage figure for the number of children who are doing what the headline claims they are doing. By any conceivable standards, that’s just poor reporting. Incompetently poor. So why a professional journalist would do such a thing?
Before we answer that, it’s important to say that the data seems reliable, with one caveat: it’s a survey of 11-15 year olds, and there’s a pretty huge difference between the attitudes, habits and behaviour of an 11 year-old and those of a 15 year-old. Sure, you’ve got to create your data breaks somewhere, but the Telegraph subhead about “Children as young as eleven are drinking two bottles of wine a week” is pretty disingenuous when you don’t have a breakdown of ages within the group. If 63% of all 11-15 year olds have tried alcohol at some point in their lives, I’m guessing that figure is several times higher for 15 year olds than for 11 year olds. You simply cannot draw the conclusion from the data available that any child as young as eleven is drinking as much as the Telegraph claims. They may well be. But the data as it’s presented does NOT say that they are.
(By the way – if it seems tedious that I keep referring to 11-15 year olds, it’s because that’s the age group of the survey – there’s quite a difference between ‘children’ – which is what the Telegraph are claiming the story is – and 11-15 year olds – the oldest third of all children.)
But whatever, it’s still all under-age drinking, right? Which is of course wrong (because Liam Donaldson said so, without any research or data to back up his personal belief).
So what does the “official data” referred to by the Telegraph actually say? Unsurprisingly, even a cursory look suggests quite a different picture from the one the newspaper paints:
  • The percentage of 11-15 year olds who have ever drunk FELL from 55% in 2006 to 52% in 2008
  • The percentage of 11-15 year-olds who have drunk in the last week FELL from 21% in 2006 to 18% in 2008
  • The AVERAGE alcohol consumption for 11-15 year olds who have drunk alcohol is between 13 and 16 units – so not higher than safe limits for adults at all then. And as that’s an average of 11-15 year olds who have ever drunk (52%), simple maths tells you that the average for ALL 11-15 year olds must be half that – around 7-8 units.
  • Why focus on the North East? Because that’s the region where 11-15 year olds have drunk more than anywhere else. It’s not typical of the country as a whole. 63% of 11-15 year olds have drunk alcohol there, compared with only 39% in London.
  • The Telegraph correctly reports that ‘more than one in four’ 11-15 year olds in the North East have drunk in the last week. It doesn’t report that in London, this figure is only 12%. Everywhere else, it’s between the two.
  • In terms of average weekly consumption, girls marginally exceed the safe limit for women in five out of nine regions, by an amount that is within the standard margin of error quoted by statisticians. For example, in West Midlands girls drink an average of 14.2 units a week, with a standard range of error of 1.27, meaning they could be as much as 15.9 or as little as 12.5.
  • In no area of the country do boys drink an average of more than 21 units – the recommended limit for men. The Telegraph headline is therefore factually inaccurate on yet another count. In the body of the article it states where teenage girls drink too much. It doesn’t mention the figures for teenage boys because they don’t fit with the story the newspaper is fabricating – so let me say once again, IN NO REGION OF THE COUNTRY ARE 11-15 YEAR OLD BOYS DRINKING MORE THAN THE ‘SAFE’ LIMITS FOR ADULT MEN.

The headline “Children drinking more than adult safe levels” clearly suggests that the typical or average child is doing so. The “official data” emphatically shows that this is NOT the case, and also shows – like all other recent data on the subject – that under-age drinking is declining, something the Telegraph does not see fit to mention at all.

Here is a serious and incredibly well-respected newspaper deliberately distorting NHS data to create a story that is significantly more alarming than the truth. The sub-editors have taken a story the journalist has already distorted, and written a headline and sub-head that is simply not true on several counts.
Why? Do they have their own agenda? Or are they just resorting to cheap, tabloid-style sensationalism? Anyone know?

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The Great Dentist’s Chair Hunt – Results

Last week I asked for evidence of the infamous ‘dentist’s chair’ promotion – where one person lies back in a chair while others pour spirits down their necks.

It was quoted in every newspaper and radio news report on the government’s introduction of a mandatory code for pubs as being typical of the kind of binge drinking promotion that needs to be stamped out. I’ve never seen one, and asked if anyone else had spotted one in a UK licensed premises over the last ten years.
We’ve managed to identify that this activity definitely does happen in Sam Jacks in Newcastle (it just had to be Newcastle, didn’t it?). Thanks to Beer Nut and Stringers Beer.
But so far, we’ve failed to find evidence of it happening in more than one of Britain’s 105,000 on-licensed pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants.
And then, yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone who works for one of the UK’s largest circulation national newspapers. For obvious reasons I can’t reveal that person’s identity. But what they have to say speaks volumes about the media and neo-prohibitionism:

“I was asked to find images showing the aforementioned chair for our paper last week. One of the picture researchers spent a couple of hours on the case without finding one single picture of this occurring anywhere in the world, never mind Britain. That search included 13 or 14 commercial picture agencies handling millions of stock images which, I think, shows that this particular form of drinking – disregarding one event involving England footballers almost 15 years ago – is non-existent.”
It’s good to know that even among the people who are compelled to spread the myth of ‘soaring’ binge drinking, there are those who realise what a crock of horseshit this whole media-generated moral panic really is.