Specifically. This part.
The Pub Curmudgeon, knowledgeable stick that he is, has at least identified the brand in question, along with his customary sane commentary.During hearings, MPs were sceptical about examples given by the drinks industry of progress made since the deal, such as plans by one company to reduce the strength of a premium lager by 0.2 per cent.This is by far the most baffling stanza in the whole piece. 25 pints? Why 25 pints? However much I play around with this, there is no reference point, they may as well say reducing by 0.2% won't do anything to help paint Emperor penguins blue by 2015.
MPs said a person would need to drink 25 pints before the change made any impact to the number of units that they drank.
One point they make is that reducing the strength of some premium lagers by 0.2% ABV is no more than a token gesture. Maybe it is, but in a competitive market there must come a point when such strength reductions start to encounter consumer resistance, especially if not everyone moves at once.So, it's Stella, is it? It figures. The scapegoat for everything anti-drink campaigners hate.
I’m not normally a buyer of the mainstream premium lagers, but I wonder whether even now there is an effect of some customers rejecting 4.8% Stella in favour of competitors like Heineken that are still the full 5%, or even the 5.6% Polish brews like Tyskie and Zywiec.
Strong. Successful. Popular. And like McDonald's is to food snobs, singled out by the generally left of centre public health industry for scaremongery in their drive to raise government funding for their next exclusive Caribbean holiday, while simultaneously shitting on the working class folk who quite enjoy drinking the stuff.
Stella, being corporates who still believe appeasement will work with these self-shilling frauds, reduce the strength to below 5% and get hammered for it anyway. "It's pathetic", they cry!
But the Curmudgeon is correct in saying that they have already gone beyond the call of duty by exposing themselves to market losses. If the alcohol control industry were not so hideously self-indulgent, manufacturers of Stella should have been congratulated rather than ridiculed.
After all, public health - of all people - should know that acceptance by the public comes very gradually. There is no way in the world that ASH would have driven through a smoking ban in pubs in, say, 1998. They knew that very well, which is why their Director at the time denied it as vehemently as he could muster.
Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group ASH, said: "This is a scaremongering story by a tobacco industry front group.At that point in history, they knew they would risk turning the whole pub-going population against them for good if they admitted their true agenda. So they decided instead to pare off little salami slices until their lies were embedded more firmly.
"No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants."
With that in mind, you could call Stella's approach - an inoffensive 0.2% slice from their ABV - entirely in keeping with previous public health methodology. If Stella are to be criticised for their lack of action, so should ASH be condemned for their utter cowardice in 1998.
But the game has changed, as Deborah Arnott helpfully - and stupidly - revealed in the Guardian in 2006.
First, frame the argument. For years, action on smoking in public places was mired in discussion about the claimed "freedom" and "rights" of smokers, and the need for "voluntary" shifts towards compromise solutions, particularly in pubs, restaurants and clubs. We changed the terms of the debate to health and safety at work. We argued that secondhand smoke is a killerThere you have it. The 'argument' for reducing alcohol harm has now been 'framed' in the same way.
"Freedom" and "rights" of drinkers are no longer considered. Small steps which were once a ploy of anti-smokers are now not acceptable for drinks manufacturers to copy.
Whereas ASH were rightly cautious, the same approach by the makers of Stella is condemned as being derisory.
The "terms of the debate" have changed, and drink is from now on to be deemed "a killer", with no baby steps or salami slices allowed by the hypocrites of public health. The tobacco template is not so much being followed, as being done so at a world record sprint.
At this rate, the tobacco industry's 40 year demise is going to look like it was filmed in super slo-mo compared with the swift dagger to the heart alcohol is going to suffer unless they start fighting back properly. And Soon.