A report titled ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ was published in May this year by two neo-temperance research and lobby groups - the UK’s Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and Australia’s Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). If anyone was in any doubt that so-called ‘public health’ is a far-left socialist project opposed to consumer capitalism in all its forms, then take a look at this report and at the organisations that stand behind it.
The report is a comprehensive articulation of one of the three strands of neo-temperance, anti-alcohol strategy, namely, reducing the physical availability of beverage alcohol products – hence the title. The other two strands are affordability and advertising. IAS and FARE want to reduce all three as part of a whole population approach to alcohol harm reduction. I will give a detailed analysis of this report in Propel Quarterly, but here’s a taster:
The report comes up with 10 recommendations, all aimed at reducing alcohol consumption:
1. Restrict trading hours for off-licence liquor.
2. Restrict trading hours of on-licence venues to limit the availability of alcohol after midnight.
3. Improve regulation of off-licence liquor sales by confining alcohol to specific areas within supermarkets to discourage impulse purchases and reduce alcohol sales.
4. Enhance community involvement - provide residents with access to legal resources and advice to ensure that the community is able to engage with licensing systems.
5. Clearly define licensing policy to minimise the cumulative harm associated with higher densities of liquor outlets.
6. Place the onus on applicants to prove that their venue is in the public interest.
7. Include and prioritise public health and/or harm minimisation objectives in liquor legislation.
8. Enhance data sharing to facilitate more targeted policy interventions.
9. Restrict the sale of high risk products in areas of concern.
10. Deprioritise alcohol industry voluntary schemes.
Neo-temperance campaign groups like IAS and FARE believe that it’s the availability of alcohol that makes people drink it; that supply begets demand. The fact that such a proposition turns established economic theory on its head bothers them not one jot. You might think that the wish-list of a bunch or temperance cranks isn’t worth the effort of rebutting, but these are the same temperance cranks that hugely influenced the Chief Medical Officers’ of Health revised ‘low risk’ drinking guidelines. The IAS is very experienced at insinuating itself and its advocates into positions of influence.
They always play down their temperance aspirations and their broader ideology, but IAS is owned by a charity called Alliance House on whose board sits a variety of temperance organisations. Essentially the IAS is the research arm of the International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) and their offices are located at the same address in London. So, it’s worth looking at what IOGT believe if we are to understand the underlying motives of IAS.
IOGT believe that Big Alcohol is part of something they call the “corporate consumption complex”, which they define as: “an intricate web of organizations including the multination corporations manufacturing the goods of consumer capitalism, retail giants selling those products, trade associations doing the political lobbying as well as advertising and law firms supporting PR and political campaigns of these industries.”
And then this:
“Together with Big Tobacco, the food, pharmaceutical, firearms and automobile industries, the alcohol industry forms the so-called corporate consumption complex – a network of corporations, financial institutions, banks, trade associations, advertising, lobbying and legal firms that together promote “hyper consumption”.
“The corporate consumption complex has become the most powerful force to impact human health and the communities in which humans live. It is the primary modifiable cause of the biggest cause of premature mortality in the 21st century, Non-communicable diseases.”
So, there you have it - IAS and IOGT aren’t simply opposed to excessive consumption of alcohol and the health harms associated with that, they are opposed to the modern world! It’s all a conspiracy! They regard the pharmaceutical industry as part of this corporate consumption complex – as part of what causes non-communicable diseases. Have they heard of anti-biotics? And the automobile industry – get rid of cars! When you read through IOGT’s detailed analysis of what is wrong with modern society they are not just enemies of alcohol but are at odds with consumer capitalism – run by a bunch of bad-guys intent on putting profit before public health; apparently we all believe it is in our economic self-interest for our customers to die prematurely!
What is implied by their analysis is that the only way for us to live is to embrace a kind of woolly, agrarian communitarianism – back to the horse and cart, lots of brown rice and above all a life free of alcohol or any other intoxicant by means of which human beings might change their consciousness.
I think both our sector and government needs to be more aware of the ideology underpinning neo-temperance, and what it means for business and our society if these crackpots are successful in propagating their influence. Keep watching this space.