Friday, 22 June 2012

A 21st century temperance manifesto

In Sock Puppets, I mentioned a lobby group called Active Europe which is funded by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. Also known as Active Sobriety Friendship and Peace, its vision is "a world free from alcohol". It is a direct descendant of the International Order of Good Templars, the nineteenth century temperance outfit, and it continues to preach the virtues of teetotallism.

These people want an EU-wide alcohol strategy and, judging by a meeting to be held next week, the EU agrees.

What might such a strategy involve? If Active Europe get their way, it will involve a very great deal. They have published a list of "demands" (their word) based on the increasingly popular concept of "passive drinking" which, as you will see, is not the only piece of rhetoric they have borrowed from the anti-smokers.

Active demands that:

Direct and indirect alcohol marketing should be prohibited all over Europe

I'm not sure what indirect advertising is. Point of sale perhaps?

Alcoholic beverages should be clearly marked with content labels and labels warning the consumers about the risks connected with alcohol consumption. The warning text should cover at least 40% of the label.

Gee, I wonder where they got that idea from?

Alcoholic beverages targeting young people should be banned

Alcopops? Cider? Rum and Coke?

Alcohol product packaging and labeling should not be allowed to create a misleading impression about the content of the beverage, about the effects of the alcoholic beverage and they must not appeal to minors

That sounds like a recipe for plain packaging.

Alcohol should neither be sold in multiple packages nor offered at quantity discounts

Fine. I'll buy it by the barrel then.

The media should be cautious about consequences of alcohol consumption and avoid glamorization of alcohol consumption and alcohol products.

State control of the media. Why not?

European countries should adopt the model of retail monopolies for selling alcoholic beverages

State control of the alcohol retail industry. Why not?

Municipalities and local authorities should reduce the density of outlets

Notice that they give no ideal number of outlets. This is classic temperance stuff. However many outlets there are, there should be fewer. However high alcohol duty is, it should be higher.

Speaking of which...

All countries should increase minimum taxes on alcohol

Of course they should. Without end.

Non alcoholic beverages should be always more available than alcoholic beverages

What does "more available" mean? Pubs should stock more soft drinks than alcoholic drinks?

Alcohol should not be sold in packages

Plain packaging again?

Minimum prices for alcoholic beverages be introduced in all countries

That would break EU law, but never mind. It hasn't stopped the English and the Scots having a go.

Producing and selling home-made alcoholic beverages should require a license

Seriously?! That wasn't the law even during Prohibition.

All traffic, on the streets and highways, in the air and on the seas should be alcohol free.

Just to remind you, we—as taxpayers—are paying for this group to spout this stuff.

The alcohol industry should not be included in policy making on the alcohol field

Following the anti-tobacco blueprint to the letter.

Research financed by the alcohol industry should be discredited and ignored in the policy making processes

Ha! It should "be discredited and ignored" purely because of the funding source. How very enlightened.

Alcohol consumption has the consequences that the user escapes from reality instead of solving the problem. Obviously this creates obstacles for human beings to participate in the democratic processes. This amounts to political harm because in a well-functioning society everybody is empowered and engaged and nobody is influenced by drugs.

Do you know what I think "creates obstacles for human beings to participate in the democratic processes"? Governments funding special interests groups to lobby it while the rest of civil society is left out in the cold, that's what.

This group of neo-prohibitionists not only receive large sums of money from the EU (they list no other funding source). They are classed as "stakeholders" and they regularly "engage" with EU decision-makers. This system of patronage is endemic in the EU and has been a growing problem in the UK in the last decade. Welcome to the post-democratic world of state-funded activists and phony consultations.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just don't want to pay for it.


Jonathan Bagley said...

"Producing and selling home-made alcoholic beverages should require a license"

At least someone's noticed the elephant in the alcohol control room. Good luck with enforcing that law.

nisakiman said...

Five gets you ten that as enthusiastically as the Eurocrats back these plans, they will ensure that the EU parliament bars are exempt from the restrictions. After all, it's only the hoi-polloi who need controlling. The great and the good are above all thar...

Smoking Scot said...

Excuse the hell out of me; perhaps I read this wrong? They want all this simply so I can be guaranteed to be of sound mind when I vote?

What's a person to do for the remaining 364 days and 23 hours each year?

Sometimes I crack a smile at the "for the kiddies" stuff they spout about smoking (don't have 'em, don't want 'em, only reason I put up with 'em is they'll pay my pension - in due course).

But this has to be the weakest, most transparent attempt to curry favour with politicians - ever.

Anonymous said...

It's happening already and the brewers are to blame. More and more beers are being brewed at reduced ABV - take Stella for example, down from 5.2% to 5% and now 4.8%; Coors Lights from 4.5% to 4%, Rolling Rock from 4.5% to 2.8%. Seems like screw the consumer, we wil just play along with the prohibitionist's game!