Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Job done. Go away.

Ian Gilmore—the appropriately miserable face of the medical temperance movement in Britain—gave an interview last year which was published in BMC Medicine. In it, he said the following:

Of course, we do not want everybody to stop drinking. That is not the endgame. However, nonetheless, if we could just get the whole consumption curve shifted down by 10 or 20% - if we could get back to where we were in the UK, say, 30 to 40 years ago in our per capita consumption and we would see a huge benefit in health.

You get the feeling that Gilmore would say he wanted to see the 'whole consumption curve' go down by 10 to 20 per cent regardless of where it stood at any given time, but he gives a more specific target when he says that he wants consumption to go back to where it was '30 or 40 years ago'.

Gilmore doesn't seem to have kept up with the statistics. If he's happy with how much we were drinking '30 or 40 years ago' then he would surely be happy to split the difference and settle for where we were 35 years ago.

And it so happens that is exactly where we are. Per capita alcohol consumption for adults in 1980 was 9.4 litres. The latest available figures, for 2013, show per capita consumption to be...

[drum roll]

...9.4 litres.

And falling.

Two questions arise.

Firstly, where is the 'huge benefit in health'?

Secondly, now that Gilmore and his teetotal cronies have achieved their goal, will they go off, leave us alone and do something useful with their lives?

The answer, of course, is that there hasn't been a 'huge benefit in health' because basing policy on the 'whole consumption curve' is a fool's errand and they won't go away because they are prohibitionists who are in it for the long haul.

1 comment:

Christopher Snowdon said...

It's all about "direction of travel" rather than the achievement of any specific objectives. Alcohol consumption now seems to be falling faster than smoking prevalence.