Posted by Angry Exile
Some highlights, though the libertarian view I’ve quoted en bloc because it’s just too good not to. I’ve balanced this by cutting the nanny campaigner’s views to shreds. I’d intended to fisk it but it’s such total arse gravy that I just wanted to stick my head in the oven. Click the link if you want to read it in full, and remember to vote in the poll while you’re there.
THE WINEMAKER STEPHEN STRACHAN
WINEMAKERS understand why some people like the idea of health warnings on alcohol containers. It’s simple, consistent, gets the message onto the product itself and is easy for policy makers to implement and monitor.
The problem is that warning labels don’t change drinking habits. Instead they impose unnecessary restrictions and costs on producers and take a simplistic approach to dealing with a complex problem.
Let’s also be clear that our goal is to reduce harmful consumption of alcohol, not all consumption. That point is lost on those who refuse to accept that, while alcohol abuse is a serious problem requiring a serious response, moderate consumption is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle for those who choose it.
Stephen Strachan is chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.
THE LIBERTARIAN TIM WILSON
MANDATED alcohol warning labels don’t work and perpetuate the government-sponsored drift away from individual choice and responsibility that fuels alcohol abuse.
Our society is built on principles protecting our rights to choose our own life. That requires us to accept responsibility for our actions. Every time the government steps in we promote a nanny state that infantilises individuals.
Compromise on these principles requires evidence that good intentions will work. Alcohol warning labels don’t fit the bill.
We all know there are health consequences from heavy drinking.
People choose to drink alcohol; and sometimes it is to the point of abuse to get drunk.
If that is someone’s objective, they won’t slow down from a warning label.
The objective of such regulations is to de-normalise consumption, placing government preference above individual choice.
It is straight out of the regulatory playbook targeted at another product disliked by public health campaigners.
Publicly released sample alcohol warning labels include: ”drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancer” and ”drinking alcohol damages the young developing brain”.
The parallels are clear, despite contrary protests of campaigners.
On ABC1’s Lateline, a public health campaigner, Michael Daube, claimed his push for text-based alcohol warning labels was ”a mile away from the kind of grisly warnings that go with cigarette packs”. He continued: ‘These are informative warnings, but they’re not designed to put people off drinking completely.”
These statements are misleading and, as president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Daube knows it.
As the shock value of text-based labels reduced, their graphic nature increased, coupled with other tight regulations. We can expect the same for alcohol.
Warning labels are only one more step down the nanny state path of government directing behaviour.
No one disputes that alcohol consumption has consequences. We’ve known that for at least 2000 years. Anyone who has had a few glasses of wine within an hour has figured that out.
The right direction is to create a culture of responsibility where people are free to choose, make mistakes and learn from them – not look to government for permission when it fosters a culture of us not taking responsibility.
Tim Wilson is a policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs.
THE DRINKER LYSSA TROMPF
I’M NOT answering this question from the perspective of a girl who doesn’t want to know the truth; that the beverages she’s pouring down her gullet and into the glasses of others each weekend are harmful. I know the poisons of alcohol, I’ve experienced the hangovers, heard the stories, had the addicted family members.
Despite this, I disagree with a move to place warning labels on packaged drinks. As a long-time bartender and club promoter, I know drinks will be consumed with barely an eye on the container from which the sip-ee consumes. The drinker, with the dark of a bar or party in combination with that undeniable level of ”carefree” that stops him complaining about things like the bourbon he was poured when he asked for a vodka, isn’t going to notice the label.
On top of this come the very common licensing laws that have bartenders decanting most bottled drinks, and even some in cans, into plastic containers – so again the message is lost and this money is literally thrown in the bin.
Lyssa Trompf is a bartender and music promoter.
THE CAMPAIGNER MICHAEL THORN
… A government-regulated alcohol warning label regime needs to be rolled out alongside a comprehensive education campaign.
The government has taken the first step towards pregnancy warning labels by moving to mandate labels within two years. Now it must show strong leadership and implement a label based on the best available evidence, and one that people will notice.
Michael Thorn is the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.
As a footnote I admit to some surprise that The Age published three views opposing the prototypical Nanny State solution of regulation and warning labels and only one wowser supporting it, though it’s kind of irrelevant when so many people are crying – over their Sunday evening dinner with a nice glass of Pinot – to be saved from the demon drink by saintly warning labels and the benevolent guiding hand of the government.
‘Kinell! If anyone wants me I shall be up a (very metaphorical) tower with a (similarly metaphorical) rifle.