Tag: neo-prohibitionism

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Danger: ale drinker on the loose

I’m having another go at media coverage of binge drinking because I’ve been asked to talk about it in my next Publican column.
Even Google is biased: I needed a stat yesterday for the (GROWING) number of teetotallers in the UK. I typed into Google “What percentage of the UK population is teetotal?” and the first page of hits was dominated by links titled “What percentage of the UK population suffers from alcohol abuse?” You just can’t win.
The seventh link down was to a PDF of a booklet called Alcohol and Drinking Problems, published by Family Doctor Publications Limited in association with the British Medical Association.
There’s a cartoon strip illustrating a case study of a man who used to drink a bit too much, and now doesn’t. It’s so bad it’s almost good!
First thing – as work pressure gets to Mr Roberts and he turns to alcohol to solve his stress problems, guess what drink he turns to? That’s right! A pint of ale, that well-known heavy alcoholic hit so beloved of problem drinkers.
See how the pint of ale makes him use threatening body language to his exasperated wife when he gets home. He’s probably very close to beating her.
And then, the serious medical consequences – his blood pressures is “a little high”! See how the doctor immediately, with no discussion or further tests, KNOWS with absolute certainty that the “a little high” blood pressure is linked to drinking (and not the work stress that drove Mr Roberts to drink in the first place).
So he gives up drinking, and now he doesn’t drink he’s a good father to his son, helping him with his homework instead of getting boozed up in the pub. Ale drinkers never help their kids with their homework, I bet. And the work stress, the high blood pressure, and probably every other problem he’s had, have all gone away. He’s even had time to change into some casual clothes instead of the dishevelled suit he wore all the time when he was drinking.
I love that the title of the page is ‘Understanding Alcohol’ – the people who put it together clearly don’t.

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Oh for Fuck’s Sake

Doing quite a lot of Googling at the moment gathering info for the last few beers I need to write up for a big book next year being edited by ATJ. And on many of the sites I’ve been consulting – sites with tasting notes for Russian Imperial Stouts, guides to breweries in Sweden, notes on the history of beer styles – the following banner ad appears with remarkable frequency.
(Edit: uh-oh – the ad changed. Um… the ad when I posted it was STOP DRINKING.)
Online ad targeting is as simple as it is clever. Define your target audience in terms of their browsing interests, and target the sites they’re likely to visit. So we want to reach people who are worried about their drinking? Let’s target alcohol-related websites. The thing about the twisted puritanical shits who put this stuff together is they believe there’s only one kind of drinker – the kind that needs help. It’s inconceivable to them that people visiting craft beer sites might actually only be drinking moderate amounts, that they may not have a problem with their drinking, that it may be part of a healthy lifestyle. They simply don’t understand that there is a spectrum of drinkers, and that the people who visit websites like this are actually less likely to have a problem than people who drink large quantities of the same brew or wine every day without thinking about it. Taking in an interest in what you’re drinking is a sign that it’s not just about the alcohol intake. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn. Either way, the result is that you can’t indulge an interest in beer online now without someone hectoring you about your drinking.
After this week’s furore about Brew Dog, I’m really starting to lose my patience about this (response from anti-alcohol lobby: “Ah, why so defensive? Maybe you DO have a problem.”)
The email for the organisation doing this is support@yourbadhabits.com. Every time you see the ad, I suggest an email to them asking them to butt out.

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Neo-Prohibitionism Update

Some news headlines from the last seven days:

  • Boris Johnson’s first policy announcement as London mayor: drinking to be illegal on public transport from June 1st
  • Westminster council to prohibit all outdoor drinking (including in Soho)
  • Tesco to ban alcohol sales to parents shopping with their children to discourage under-age drinking
  • Glasgow Celtic and Rangers to remove Carling logo from replica kits sold to children to discourage under-age drinking
  • Binge drinking blamed for 10% rise in crime among girls as young as ten

Ever wished you could just slap a hysterical country around the face? There is no objectivity here whatsoever. Absolutely no research or reasoning that any of these measures will discourage the minority of people who drink dysfunctionally. We’re demonising drink. Independent anthropological research by Brown University in the US shows that it is this demonisation – this removal of drink from the context of ordinary life – that plays a major contribution in developing a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. If you don’t believe me, spend an afternoon on the ferry between Elsinore (Denmark, where drinking laws a relatively liberal) and Helsingor (a couple of miles across the water in Sweden, where dirnking laws are extremely tight). Which nationality do you think are sitting outside cafes in the sun, sipping a beer slowly, watching the world go by? And which do you think is loading up trolleys with beer, tearng open cartons in the street and necking cans as fast as they’re able?