Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Irish drinking crowd

I’ve mentioned in several posts on these pages that the many smoking bans being introduced across the country were part of a journey down a slippery slope. I’ve also pointed out that the bans, if unopposed, would lead to further erosion of personal liberty that would not be restricted to smokers; that the success of the anti-smoker brigade would encourage other anti-anything-I-don’t-like groups to demand further government incursions into the area of behaviour modification.

The question was which group would be targeted for the next wave of punitive taxation and draconian laws designed to coerce the population into conforming to state sanctioned conduct.

I noted in a March 19 post titled “Liverpool Lunacy” that Liverpool (England) City Council's Childhood Obesity Scrutiny Group was proposing a by-law forbidding the sale of fast food accompanied by toys (MacDonald’s Happy Meals). A spokesperson for the group pointed out the success of the anti-smoker brigade and noted: “There's no reason why we can't achieve a similar feat." For the good of the kids, mind you. Uh-huh.

Now the anti-everything crowd is opening a new front. This time, the target, in their march to the perfect society, is drinkers. And their opening salvo will be fired in Ireland.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern’s government has proposed a draft bill designed to curb excessive and binge drinking by reforming liquor licensing and public order laws. The measures were introduced in the draft legislation entitled the “Intoxicating Liquor/Public Order Bill 2008,” in parliament in Dublin.

The strategies being considered for garnering public support for the legislation come directly from the anti-smoker brigade’s “little red book”.

The Daily Mail quotes a report in New Scientist which says: “The World Health Organization's global strategy will aim to match the success of campaigns which have made smokers feel guilty about the harm second-hand smoke does to others”.

Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians is quoted as saying: “The tipping point for banning smoking in public places was third party damage. Third-party damage from alcohol is much greater, in terms of violence and the damage to unborn children, the first sexual experience and the percentage of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases". Gilmore is also president of the Alcohol Health Alliance.

The Morning Advertiser advises that, “A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that taxes should be raised on alcohol to stop the harm caused to others by drinkers. It cites examples such as domestic abuse and drink-drivers and said that passive drinking should be examined in the same light as passive smoking”. Uh-huh.

And, since any successful campaign must include an appeal to protect the kids, “Many of the harms caused by alcohol are borne by people other than the drinker responsible. This includes 60,000 underweight births, as well as 16 per cent of child abuse and neglect, and five to nine million children in families adversely affected by alcohol”.

In 1975, Sir George Goober advised the WHO of the means by which smokers could be coerced into quitting: “foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily” to secondhand smoke.

The anti-smoker brigade started the ball rolling. The anti-drinker crowd will add momentum.

And the public had better take the blinders off. The madness won’t stop with smoking, drinking or the overweight. 1984 is fast approaching.

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