Thursday 14 August 2014

You have been warned!

Over the weekend, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse (which is basically a self-appointed collection of nanny staters with no official standing) issued a report calling, amongst other things, for the introduction of health warnings on alcoholic drink packages:
“Health warnings are a familiar and prominent feature on all tobacco products. Likewise, detailed nutritional labelling is ubiquitous on food products and soft drinks.

“Yet consumer information on alcohol products usually extends no further than the volume strength and unit content.

“In order to inform consumers about balanced risk, every alcohol label should include an evidence-based health warning as well as describing the product's nutritional, calorific and alcohol content.”

Note how, not for the first time, the treatment of tobacco is being used as a template for alcohol policy.

I have to say I start to suffer from “outrage fatigue” in response to stories like this – RedNev covers it in more detail here. However, some of the implications need to be considered. It somewhat surprisingly ignores the fact that the vast majority of bottles and cans already have health labelling as shown in the example above. However, the implication is that they want much more prominent warnings, on the front labels rather than on the back, and presumably large notices along the same lines to be displayed in pubs and bars where many drinks are not served from individual containers.

The claim is that this will be providing consumers with information about what they are drinking, but of course they have that information already and, in any case, surely nobody who is likely to be influenced by such warnings can have no idea that alcohol might be damaging to health if consumed to excess.

The drinks industry has always enjoyed a figleaf of respectability behind which it can say that it is not alcohol per se that is dangerous, just drinking too much of it. However, warnings of this kind will increasingly snip that away and instead at least imply an unequivocal message that any quantity is bad for you.

Now of course many people will cheerfully ignore these labels, but on the margins some will look at a bottle with a big notice on the front saying “This stuff is bad for you” and conclude it’s something they really should be avoiding. Who wants to sit there at a dinner party with a bottle displaying a picture of a diseased liver sitting in the middle of the table? It will be another drip, drip, drip effect deterring people from drinking at all – which of course is the intention in the first place. It is part of the process of denormalisation.


  1. oh aye yeh, you're not wrong. It's the fags model applied to booze with the intention of having the same effect. When drinkers fall to below 50% of the population we're in for it and all amounts of "but I drink discerning grog, not that common bog wash" will fall on deaf ears.

    a couple of points of the health warnings I like though. I think units are a decent shorthand and I'd like to see calorie information.

  2. And will branded glasses in the pub have to display pictures of said diseased livers?

  3. And then, the 'third sector' will come up with surveys saying that 70% of people agree with further restrictions.

    It's tedious and transparent to those with any sense.

  4. Whilst we continue to live in a country where this poison is allowed to be sold, it is right and proper that people be discouraged from partaking and made to feel guilty when they do. Pictures of diseased organs on pub glassware is a good start.

    As public perception alters, when we come to ban this filth, explanations will be demanded as to why we didn't ban it sooner.

    You might as well get used to a delicious and invigorating elderflower cordial now, Mr Curmudgeon, and wean yourself from the filthy bitter.

  5. Thanks for the mention. I know exactly what you mean by "outrage fatigue".

    T/Tim: are you the Tim of the Australian rock band, Tim Rogers & The Temperance Union?

  6. TT - are you named after Barclay Perkins Porter? Good to see that you're continuing the tradition of bollocky temperance "arguments" of past killjoy campaigners.

    Making people feel guilty about an innocent pleasure. What a totally twattish thing to do.

  7. More trolls than Shrek 2 on your blog mudgie.

  8. Relax for the time being ,dear boozers,the real clampdown will come in two stages
    1 When advertising in the media is banned and acohol is demonised
    2 When the Drug giants develop a
    ART (alchohol replacement treatment)available on the NHS
    Then the fury faced by smokers will descend on the drinkers

    Wait for the richochet

  9. There will be no branded glasses. They will be self coloured putrid green or brown with the big diseased liver, blind man, dead body, aborted foetus picture on both sides. Welcome to denormalisation.

  10. It's a joke. The only people who take notice of warnings are the people who aren't going to do what the notices are warning about in the first place. Calories might focus the attention of the calorie-concious but then again, the prominent displays of rather high calorie counts on Greggs counters doesn't seem to put those who could probably do with cutting down a bit.

  11. put off that is

  12. Another trick of the miserableists is to concentrate on the bit you have to put up with to enjoy the wonderful flavours and aromas of the drink, reducing it down to one chemical as the sole reason for drinking it all.


    "Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics for the British Medical Association, said: "We have to start de-normalising alcohol - it is not like other types of food and drink."

    As unfortunately, anything with even a trace of alcohol upsets my system, my preference is coffee and when they come for me again, it will just be about caffeine rather than all the other benefical elements and the delicious smell and taste.

    It's a sad thing that these days you have to study the chemistry of the things you liked instinctively,but I am very fed up of people's reasoned arguments being dismissed as "it's just the drug speaking".

    And if you do decide to argue back expect to be called a shill for Big Alcohol.

    It comes as unpleasant surprise.


  13. Aye, drink and you may get drunk. Drink tea and you’ll live — at least a while. And, dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may print warnings on our cheap lager, but they’ll never take our freedom to neck it! Alba gu bra!

  14. Warning on Condoms
    Overuse may restrict procreation

  15. It's not really news that there's a temperance clique in parliament, is it? There pretty much always has been.

  16. Yes, but their voices become ever more shrill, their demands ever more extreme and their influence on policy ever greater.


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