Are Alcohol Consumption Guidelines a Smokescreen for Government Inaction?

Published On: January 25, 2016

Recently the Government has revised its alcohol consumption guidelines.  The new guidelines are said to reflect ‘new evidence’ linking alcohol consumption to cancer.  The guidelines now say both men AND women should not consume more than 14 units per week – down from 21 units per week for men, although for women the advice remains unchanged. This is the equivalent of six pints of 4% beer or six glasses of 13% wine.

The Government now says no level of drinking can be considered healthy, no matter how moderate your drinking may be.

However, many believe Government backed alcohol consumption guidelines are an ineffective means of preventing alcohol abuse. This ‘advice’ is widely considered a ‘smokescreen’ for Government inaction when it comes to policing the powerful alcohol industry.

For instance, the science and technology select committee says: “The government views the guidelines as a tool to influence drinking behaviour when there is very little evidence that the guidelines have been effective at this.”

Many experts say the alcohol guidelines are simply in place so that the Government is seen to be doing something in order to tackle alcohol abuse.

More effective measures that could reduce alcohol abuse would undoubtedly upset the powerful alcohol industry that exists in this country.

A report published by the University of Stirling two years ago recommended a number of measures believed capable of effectively reducing alcohol abuse. Shockingly, the Government’s current strategy of recommending maximum levels of alcohol consumption failed to make it into this list!

Instead, the report recommended action such as ‘minimum unit pricing’, a ban on alcohol advertising, higher taxes on alcohol, limiting the number of licenced premises in a given area and a reduction in the legal drink-driving limit. The University of Stirling says these policies would be based on an “evidence-based alcohol strategy”.

Successive Governments have shied away from these measures.

The Scottish Government is currently wrangled in legal proceedings regarding minimum unit pricing, and the Irish Government is currently considering implementing this strategy.

Many believe the British Government does not wish to ‘take on’ the powerful alcohol industry as this would be seen as imposing limits on business. The Government has thus substituted meaningful action and intervention with ‘information’ and ‘official advice’ that most people are likely to ignore.

Rehab 4 Alcoholism offers advice on alcohol treatment. Call in confidence on 0800 111 4108.

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