Sunday, May 28, 2006

Passive drinking?


If you thought that the EU health police were content with ‘passive smoking’ as an authoritarian tool to stop us doing bad things to ourselves, then get ready for the great new concept ready to burst out of the corridors of power in Brussels.

A new term is about to enter the Euro-political lexicon: ‘passive drinking’. The idea was first mooted at the First Meeting of Alcohol Policy Network, Warsaw, June 15-16 2004.

Journalist Bruno Waterfield writes that:

"I have seen a leaked draft report for the European Commission, which is due to be published some time in June. It makes claims about the high environmental or social toll of alcohol, the ‘harm done by someone else’s drinking’. The report is likely to inform proposals for a European Union alcohol strategy later this year."

According to the draft report:

“The total tangible cost of alcohol to EU society in 2003 was estimated to be €125bn (€79bn-€220bn), equivalent to 1.3 per cent GDP, and which is roughly the same value as that found recently for tobacco…The intangible costs show the value people place on pain, suffering and lost life that occurs due to the criminal, social and health harms caused by alcohol. In 2003 these were estimated to be €270bn, with other ways of valuing the same harms producing estimates between €150bn and €760bn.”

So what has the EU got up its sleeve to counter this new ‘danger’? Well, they plan shorter drinking hours in pubs, higher taxes on alcohol, etc, to force us to change our naughty ways.

The isolated EU elite– desperate to appear relevant after the French and Dutch stuck two fingers up at them in last year’s constitution referenda - is now moving further in on people’s personal behaviour in its attempt to connect with us.

It seems to think we appreciate being treated like children.

Is the time that far off when we don’t just have smoke-free pubs but alcohol-free pubs as well?

18 comments:

Romerican said...

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

roman said...

I see another revenue raising scheme being hatched by the "tax and spend" Eurocrats.

glenda said...

same here. More control. More taxes. more limitations.

eulogist said...

That's right. No restrictions on pub hours is what I say. And life imprisonment for drunken driving - because the problems mentioned are real.

beatroot said...

I completly agree with both measures, Eulogist. But what I am suspicious about is that alcohol is being used as an excuse for crime. They say that 1 in 4 crimes in Europe were 'caused' by alcohol...but they were not. They were caused by people who were drunk. It is not the alcohol that is the problem but the people who drink it.

That may sound obvious but think about it for a moment...

eulogist said...

I agree with you, beatroot. Alcohol does reinforce certain tendencies in an individual (e.g. to aggressive or reckless behaviour), but it does not cause them in the sense that alcohol is the only cause. It is just one of several factors, including the social and mental state of the person involved. As the high social cost and the impossibility of banning alcohol from society are well-proven (re the American Prohibition of the early 1900s), a better strategy of dealing with alcohol-related problems is to concentrate on promoting the responsible use of alcohol instead. "Continental drinking" as it is called in Scandinavia - i.e. just taking a little wine with your dinner instead of tossing down large quantities of beer or wodka in order to get drunk as fast as possible.

But what is true for alcohol is also true for a lot of other (illegal) drugs...

beatroot said...

Though I can't imagine too many people wanting to get into a punch up after a joint or two...

'Continental drinking' is what Tony Blair thought would happen when he advocated the extension of drinking laws in the UK..problem is south London is NOT Tuscany!

eulogist said...

Quite - society would be better off if governments promoted cannabis as a substitute for alcohol ;)

South London is not Tuscany - yet... You can't expect a culture that has never learned to deal responsibly with alcohol to change overnight. But continental drinking habits are winning ground in Scandinavia, moving up north from Denmark into Sweden and Finland since they all became EU members. In fact, my Swedish friends tell me that good wine is hardly more expensive in Sweden these days than it is "on the continent", as the excise duty is a fixed amount that makes up an increasingly small percentage of the total in the higher price segments (you could also say that the Swedish system is highly elitist as it penalises lower income groups for their drinking habits). And Britain is making some progress at least - why else would there be so many large supermarchés next to the Chunnel entrance?

(Not that all of Britain will become Tuscany, but hey, why should it... (as long as there is life prisonment for drunken driving))

Michael Farris said...

As our bureaucratic masters ponder how to help us save ourselves from our sadly destructive desires, my thoughts turn toward junk food.
I now eagerly look forward to food-free McDonalds and KFC. All hail the benevolent guidance of our comrades in the European Commission!

beatroot said...

Eulogist: they are trying their best in the Uk to force people to start drinking like the Italians. Of course, it isn;t working. The Brits have a cultural problem with alcohol that is not going to go away. A new official puritanism will do little stop the British overcoming their inhibitions with 8 pints of lager.

Mike: hamburger free hamburger bars, sex free brothels, hair free barbers....the eurocrats are bonkers-crats.

Dezso said...

Although some would argue against the proposition that women cost a lot. (sorry, ladies I did not meant to offend any of you!) But let's suppose!
Would this - made up - fact make it possible for a Brussel smart ass, to ban female clients from bars. Based on the raw calculation of how much intangible time cost is spent on them or so?
Why they don't start to tax email traffic right away? or blogs?
Cheers,

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