Some questions for the Alliance

16 November, 2007

Alcohol consumption in Britain is dropping right across the board so the measures proposed by the Alcohol Health Alliance are mis directed. Alcohol taxes in Britain are already among the highest in Europe and raising taxes further will just hit the vast majority of drinkers who enjoy a quiet drink responsibly.

The WSTA has signed an open letter to Alcohol Health Alliance chairman Professor Ian Gilmore, written in conjunction with the BBPA, SWA, GVA and NACM. The letter poses five questions about the assumptions on which the AHA campaign has been launched:

1 If current policies are insufficient, why are the numbers of people drinking in excess of the daily unit guidelines falling?

2 If high taxes reduce harm, why does the UK, which has the second highest alcohol tax rates in Europe, have worse drinking behaviours than low tax countries?

3 If high taxes reduce harm, why do the high tax countries of Europe have higher levels of binge drinking than the low tax countries?

4 If alcohol advertising encourages people to drink more, why has alcohol consumption in the UK fallen for the last two years?

5 Rather than call for health warning labels, which is ineffective at reaching those who drink excessively, what are doctors doing to encourage and promote moderate consumption, given those who drink moderately enjoy longer lives than those who drink excessively or don't drink at all?

Jeremy Beadles

Chief executive

Wine & Spirit Trade Association

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