You simply cannot pick and choose which freedoms you like and which you don't. You either stand up to all of the dictatorial bullying, or you will inevitably become a target.Yet that's exactly what the drinks and hospitality industry refused to do when smokers were being harshly treated. Not their problem, they said.
In fact, many even supported the de-normalisation process.
I once engaged in online debate with an arrogant, self-serving beardy from CAMRA (yes, he did have a beard, seriously). Having mentioned that his smug defence of the smoking ban might come back to haunt his particular vice at some point in the future, he replied with words to the effect of "most of the public like a drink, so that will never happen".Fast forward a couple of years (as I preen my prescient self) and I'd love to know what such people think of the situation now they are on an equal footing with those evil, filthy smokers.
The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), which speaks on behalf of major supermarket chains on alcohol issues, accused organisers of a "calculated and deliberate attempt to mix the issue of alcohol misuse with the known and proven health harms caused by smoking".Oh dear. No-one saw that coming, did they? Well actually, there was the odd, ahem, blogger or two. Mostly ignored, natch.
WSTA spokesman Gavin Partington said: "The decision to refuse access to those in the industry who wish to discuss issues regarding alcohol misuse openly and honestly only adds to the impression that Alcohol Focus Scotland have their own agenda and wish to stifle debate".They don't want to debate with you, Gavin. You are the enemy and they wish to paint you as a drug dealer, d'you see? It's how they work. For Chrissakes keep up, man, this has been planned for years, and it was your job to spot it. You failed.
If the alcohol industry had been clever enough to recognise the threat that anti-smoker invective was causing to their business, they would still be buffered against it right now. Instead of supporting the exposed 'unapproved' first line of defence against hordes of public health savages, they just allowed them to be sacrificed in naïve belief that the terminally puritan wouldn't then storm the ramparts - their weapons intact, sharpened even by success - and massacre whatever they found inside.
Alcohol Focus Scotland said its stand was done to fall in line with ASH, which bans the tobacco industry from its events.That's a bit of a whopper, it has to be said. They've wanted to do so for years but have never had the confidence or the gall before. But emboldened by the stunning success - aided significantly by appeasement from the drinks and hospitality industries, ironically - of tobacco control, why not give it a go, eh?
In fact, the process of getting alcohol producers banned from government consultations is in full swing, as evidenced by this article last month.
Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, claimed yesterday that its efforts to combat cheap booze were derailed because the industry had learned from the big tobacco companies on how to influence decision-makers by minimising the dangers of the product.There's that comparison to tobacco again.
“Everybody has the right to lobby for their interests but my concern is, and it’s something that the World Health Organisation has said really clearly, that the alcohol industry’s role should only be in terms of producing and distributing alcohol products. It should not be involved in directing Government alcohol policy and it should not be involved in health promotion or responsible drinking campaigns.I do believe that is a call for censoring anyone who defends alcohol as a valid consumer product. Or, as Vivienne Nathanson of the BMA said just the other day.
“They’re not educators, they’re not public health people. They produce a substance that is dangerous, that is not an ordinary commodity. It requires regulation.”
"We have to start de-normalising alcohol - it is not like other types of food and drink."Scary, huh?
Join CAMRA and the BBPA on the stupid step, WSTA. It won't be long until your industry is treated as a social illness and denied all contact with legislators, charities, and universities.
Reap the whirlwind, guys. Your chance to stem the tide of rampant health fascism deteriorated considerably about four years ago.
There is a solution, of course - gang up just as the righteous are doing. Not holding my breath, mind.