Wednesday 4 December 2019

The BBC is lying about alcohol-related deaths

Perhaps it was too much to hope the media to report the news that alcohol-related deaths rose in Scotland last year while they fell in England and Wales, but I didn't expect the BBC to flat out lie about it.

Almost unbelievably, the BBC's story is headlined...

Alcohol death rates dropping in Scotland

What?! This is Pravda level stuff.

Death rates caused by alcohol have dropped in Scotland in the past 10 years, according to new figures. 

Yes, sort of. There was a big decline between 2006 and 2012. Since then, they have risen every year except 2017 and they rose again last year - the year in which minimum pricing began. 

It is fair to say that alcohol death rates dropped, albeit a while ago. It is not fair to say that they are 'dropping'. That is, by any reasonable standard, a lie.

Since the drop occurred between 2006 and 2012, nobody could possibly attribute it to a policy that was introduced in May 2018.

And yet, incredibly, that is what the BBC tries to do...

Charities said it gave cause for optimism that minimum unit pricing was working, but warned that further action was needed to curb alcohol harm. 

The charity in question is the state-funded pressure group Alcohol Focus Scotland which works hand in glove with the Scottish government. To be fair to them, their 'cause for optimism' is not the death count but the supposed decline in alcohol consumption (of just under 3 per cent) that occurred in 2018 (although sales figures from the off trade do not support this). Tying this quote to the mortality figures is an invention of the BBC's.

The charity has suggested the minimum price of alcohol could be increased and alcohol marketing restricted. 

Well, there's a surprise. Needless to say, no other viewpoint features in the article.

I don't often make a complaint to the BBC, but enough is enough. I encourage you to do the same.

I've screenshotted the offending passages on the off chance that somebody at the BBC has integrity and corrects it.

Meanwhile, here's the policy and advocacy director of the NCD Aliiance (and former head of the European Public Health Alliance) spreading fake news. This literally could not be less true.

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