Sunday 10 June 2012

That non-existent slippery slope again

Simon Chapman, 2011:

"The tobacco industry and its stooges played the same slippery slope arguments over advertising bans, sports sponsorship bans and pack warnings . Ad bans started 35 years ago. No alcohol advertising ban and no momentum I’m aware of other than breaking the sport/alcohol nexus. So the slope ain’t very slippery folks …."

Deborah Arnott, 2012:

Thirdly, the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited.

The Sunday Telegraph, today:

Doctors call for ban on TV adverts for alcohol

Thirty leading medical bodies and charities have called for a total ban on advertising for alcohol on television... If the demands of the alliance are met, they would have a major impact not just on TV advertising but also on sport sponsorship.

Fancy that!

Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), said extreme measures were required to "reset society's norms" and protect children from marketing messages which glamorise drinking and fuel excess consumption.

"Resetting society's norms" wouldn't be the same thing as denormalisation would it?

Broadcast regulations state that commercials for beer, wine and spirits cannot be aired during shows watched predominantly by children. However, many programmes which are popular with youngsters, such as sitcoms and soap operas, are free from restrictions because adults make up the majority of their audience.

This is the slippery slope in action. Campaigners play the 'think-of-the-children' card to get a ban during children's programmes and then return a little while later pretending to have suddenly noticed that children watch football matches, Coronation Street and The X Factor too. Ipso facto, we need a total advertising ban. It is exactly the same argument that was used about 'junk food' advertising back in February.

Their paper welcomes the Coalition's plans to introduce a minimum price per unit but says more should be done to protect children from alcohol marketing.

Does anyone seriously envisage a time when temperance groups do not think "more should be done"?

[Ian Gilmore] said: "Britain's attitude to drink has changed dramatically, so that it has become all-pervasive, always available and constantly marketed.

"In terms of consumption, we need to change the norms, to get back to where we were 20 or 30 years ago."

So, to get back to where we were 20 or 30 years ago we need to get rid of alcohol advertisements which were legal and less tightly regulated 20 or 30 years ago. The logic is escapable.

And where were we 20 or 30 years ago anyway? We were drinking very slightly less than we are now. By 2008, per capita alcohol consumption had risen by less than ten per cent since the mid-1980s. What a golden age of sobriety that must have been.

We also know that since 2008, alcohol consumption has continued to fall rather sharply. Data from the Office for National Statistics confirmed the same, unreported story last week:

There has been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of adults who reported drinking in the week prior to interview. In 1998 75 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women drank in the week prior to interview compared to 68 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women in 2010.

This decline, which began in 2004, took place at a time when licensing laws were relaxed and—as we are constantly told—alcohol was becoming ever more affordable. Temperance crusaders are not responding to a mounting crisis, they are pushing as far as they can go within the realms of the possible and will continue to do so regardless of whether drinking rates are going up, down or nowhere.

How do they gauge what is possible? By looking to their elder brothers and sisters in the tobacco control industry, of course. It is no coincidence that the Alcohol Health Alliance was formed shortly after the smoking ban came in and is patently modelled on the Smokefree Coalition which campaigned for that legislation (including warning about the "passive effects" of drinking). If you want to know what anti-alcohol policies are on the horizon, don't look at patterns of drinking or any other evidence. Just look back at what the anti-smokers were doing a few years ago.


orm52 said...

Chris, that’s all highly circumstantial. You’re being very nasty to the Tobacco Control “intellectuals” [giggle].

Just because it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it has feathers like a duck, it eats like a duck, it has beady little eyes like a duck, it has webbed feet like a duck, it has a duck DNA profile, doesn’t mean it’s a duck. I’m with the Tobacco Control intelligentsia (and Martyn Cornell) on this: It could very well be a rhinoceros…… or an outhouse…… or a large, decomposing pizza, for that matter.

Get with it, Chris. :)

david said...

Ah yes, Martyn Cornell's latest piece of comedy drivel. He and a few cohorts are in total denial(326 comments and responses!). So deep runs their disgust of smoking in pubs that, unsurprisingly, logic are common sense simply fly out the window.

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, I was just about to mention Martyn's piece of slippery slope denialism, but I see others have got there first.

He also defines "slippery slope" in an extremely narrow, pedantic way which would seem to exclude anything where human choice or volition are involved.

Anonymous said...

"Broadcast regulations state that commercials for beer, wine and spirits cannot be aired during shows watched predominantly by children. However, many programmes which are popular with youngsters....."

One of ASH ET AL's favourite tricks....start the sentence with 'children' and finish it with 'young people'. ASH have a mental reservation, which is that 'young people' means anyone up to the age of about 24.

Anonymous said...

And after they ban ads for alcohol, the ad agencies and the broadcasters will fill the time (and replace the lost revenue) with public (dis) service spots that agitate against drinking, Nag, nag, nag. Nature abhors a vacuum


Ivan D said...

Same old demands from the same old prohibitionists. Clearly someone at the Telegraph has an agenda because they make a habit of publicising the AHA's repetitive output. It is not news that Gilmore and his mates want to ban alcohol advertising so there is no real excuse for this mindless excuse for journalism.

dearieme said...

Call me a cynic, but are any of the alcohol bansturbators dried-out alcoholics? Such people might feel that if they can't enjoy the stuff, they don't want anyone else to either.

Jim said...

Some newspaper articles about a licensing application 120 years ago in Workington Cumberland

The local school and the cemetery Board got involved

Kristin Noll-Marsh said...

I'd love to see a study asking if smokers now drink more than they did when they could light up in the pub, rather than order another beer.

ANTZ continue to ignore human nature - the seeking of pleasant distractions. Fatty, sugary foods, alcohol, drugs, sex and adrenaline-seeking activities fit the bill. As they manage to get people to curb one "bad' habit, people will seek alternatives that may carry more risk than that which they quit. Former smokers turn obese to maintain. Formerly obese turn to smoking or drugs to maintain.

This goal to turn us all into drones free of fat, sugar, meat, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, illegal drugs, sex, extreme sports, etc. is truly chilling. (I wonder if then caffeine will be finally targeted then?) Their idea of Utopia seems to be completely free of anything that tastes good or makes you feel good - unless made by pharmaceutical companies and approved by the state, of course. We will be a world of humans dependent upon approved anti-depressants from the day we are born.