Just look at this rubbish. Firstly, it directly compares a (dubious and obsolete) £21 billion figure which is largely made up of lost earnings and internal costs with £12 billion of real money that drinkers pay in alcohol duty. If AHA wanted to create a halfway decent comparison of economic costs and benefits, it would either compare the costs to the state (about £6 billion) with the benefits to the state (£12 billion), or it would compare the costs to the wider economy (supposedly £21 billion) with the benefits to the wider economy (£30 billion). For obvious reasons, it does neither.
AHA then refers to a tiny cut in beer duty as a 'tax break to the alcohol industry'. In fact, insofar as it's a tax break for anyone, it's for drinkers, not the industry. I don't have the figures to judge the claims about the equivalent nurses, hospital beds etc. that could be afforded, but they look suspiciously high for a 1p per pint tax cut. I suspect AHA has estimated how much more drinkers would be paying if Osborne hadn't frozen wine and spirits duty. Obviously, a tax freeze is not a tax break.
Finally, it tells us that the price of a pint has risen by 3p in a year. The implication is that the evil booze industry has not only pocketed the 1p but has exploited drinkers with a further 3p increase. Apparently, AHA has never heard of inflation. (But if they really think a 1p cut led to a 3p rise, what are they moaning about? They want higher prices.)
They repeated much of this drivel in a newspaper advert recently and have since been whining on Twitter about having to resort to the mass media...
Regrettable that we've had to take out ad in @thetimes since treasury ministers have declined to meet with AHA but met industry! #Budget2015
— AHA UK (@UK_AHA) February 26, 2015
@JohnClarke1960 Unfortunately we haven't been given the opportunity to ask as @pritipatelmp won't meet with us, only the alcohol industry.
— AHA UK (@UK_AHA) March 5, 2015
It jerks on the very strings of your heart, doesn't it?
Look, there is no reason whatsoever why the treasury should want a meeting with a temperance group. The Department of Health, perhaps (and they get plenty of them). But not the treasury. On the other hand, there are lots of reasons why the treasury should want to meet industries, particularly industries which are responsible for very large sums of tax revenue.
As it happens, the government has a particularly good reason for not wanting to meet the Alcohol Health Alliance. Remember this from 2011?
The Coalition Government’s alcohol policy has come under sustained attack by the Institute of Alcohol Studies and other health aligned organisations, which have decided to boycott the Government’s Responsibility Deal with the alcohol industry.
Six alcohol and health organisations, led by the British Medical Association, that had been involved in a Coalition Government policy initiative, the Responsibility Deal for Alcohol (RDA), did their best to wreck its official launch by very publicly walking out of it. In briefings to the media they accused the Deal of being no more than diversion from the evidence-based alcohol policies likely to achieve a real reduction in alcohol harm, such as policies on pricing and availability of alcohol.
The other five organisations are the IAS, Alcohol Concern, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Liver Trust, and the British Association for the Study of the Liver.
"Did their best to wreck its official launch" is not tabloid sensationalism. The text above was written by one of AHA's members at the Institute of Alcohol Studies who was well placed to know what the strategy was.
Here's a little bit of advice for private interest groups who want to influence government policy. If you want to have meetings with government, don't "very publicly walk out" of the meetings you've already been invited to. Don't deliberately "wreck" official launches. Don't throw your toys out of the pram when the government refuses to capitulate to your every demand.
If you can behave like grown ups, maybe you'll be invited back. But if you insist on behaving like arrogant, self-entitled toddlers, don't storm out in a blaze of publicity and then complain that you're not being allowed back in.