Forty-five major drinks companies are planning to spend £100 million on a major publicity drive called The Campaign for Smarter Drinking in an attempt to encourage responsible drinking amongst the young. Fairly obviously, this is a response to the tide of (generally exaggerated or groundless) anti-drink sentiment we have seen over the past couple of years.
I have my doubts, though, as to what effect it will have. If anything, campaigns of this nature tend to moderate the behaviour of those who are already acting responsibly while doing little to affect those who are overdoing it.
Attitudes to drinking are driven more by social change than official campaigns. Over the years, pubs and bars have gone in and out of fashion with the young, and it’s very likely that in ten years time we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about. I can see the malaise that is now affecting the mainstream pub trade eventually spreading to the weekend binge-drinking scene.
Predictably, though, anti-drink fakecharity Alcohol Concern have condemned the plan as not going far enough. Chief executive Don Shenker said: “This new initiative appears to be yet another example of the drinks industry trying desperately to avoid mandatory legislation to pass on health information to consumers.”
In reality, of course, these people, however reasonable they may sound, can never be appeased. They will never state an acceptable final position, and are really primarily concerned with the direction of travel. However much you give them, they will always want more. So long as the tide is flowing in an anti-drink direction, Shenker and his bansturbatory chums will be happy.