The Government is taking responsibility for a major issue, however………….
Six leading health groups have refused to sign up to the Governments new “responsibility deal” on alcohol in England.
The proposed deal suggests voluntary agreements with the drinks industry on issues such as promotions on labelling aimed at tackling alcohol abuse. And alcohol abuse is what exactly?
Unfortunately it doesn’t tell us, but the Governments’ lack of understanding of its causes is exposed by the proposed actions, that include. ‘Better’ labelling, a new tax on super strength beers and ciders and a ban on below cost alcohol.
So clearly according to the Government the problem is that the labels don’t contain the ‘right’ information and it is implied that we are abusing alcohol because low pricing and aggressive marketing of alcohol by retailers. Additionally the suggestion is that super strength beers are bought because of competitive pricing.
But there is already a problem with labelling. It will tell you how many units are in the bottle or can but it won’t tell you very much about the alcohol. Super strength beers are usually bought for the alcohol content, a 500ML can @8% ABV (alcohol by volume) will contain between 4-4.5 units of alcohol. That is the maximum recommended allowance for men and exceeds the daily allowance for women.
Have you seen a label anywhere on an alcohol container that suggests that you stop drinking alcohol once you have reached your recommended daily intake?
It is very unusual to find anyone with an alcohol issue that does not have an underlying reason or cause for abusing it. Finding and understanding the cause is a big part of overcoming the abuse and dealing with the real issue. Addiction is almost always a symptom, and symptoms need identification and resolution of the cause.
Alcohol is the only recreational drug that is legal and socially acceptable. But it is responsible for causing more deaths than all of the illegal drugs put together. Experts that have dared to tell the previous Governments the real status of the UK’s alcohol addiction have been quickly sacked and vigorous attempts made to discredit them.
It seems that the truth can be subject to change if it doesn’t fit with Government policy and is not likely to sit well with the voters.
Perhaps it would be more responsible for the Government to admit that it actually has no idea how it is going to overcome the Country’s various addiction problems without making some potentially unpopular decisions. Will we ever see a cabinet minister brave enough to admit that recreational drug taking is not defined by the substance but by the consequences?
Don’t hold your breath.