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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Government health warning: drinking alcohol pan cake you missed

Hot on the heels of wanting to ban a piece of motoring safety equipment because it causes a handful of deaths as well comes another recommendation to the federal government from its Nannying friends.
ALCOHOL manufacturers could be forced to put cigarette-style warnings on labels if the federal government adopts a recommendation in a food labelling review.
While self righteous pricks and NIMBYS all over might be tumescent with excitement at this news smokers will find this depressingly familiar. What's been done to them all began with health warnings on packets for those too stupid to work out that putting a roll of burning leafs into your mouth and breathing through it is not exactly natural and so might be less than wholesome. Some days I fucking despair for the human race, I really do.
The report from an expert panel chaired by former health minister Neal Blewett also backed a requirement that fast food stores provide nutritional information about products.
Neal Blewett, you may not be surprised to hear, was a member of the Australian Labor Party.
On alcohol, it recommended generic warnings on labels such as ''Alcohol can damage your health'' and ''Drinking to excess is a danger to yourself and those around you''.
As with warnings on tobacco way back when, this kind of thing is probably not news except to that small minority who move their lips when they try to read. Christ, the media have been parroting it for so long that warnings on labels are pretty much redundant from a point of view of informing drinkers, and there's a tacit admission of that too.
But the panel said such warnings were unlikely to be modify behaviour if used in isolation and could be justified only as part of a national campaign targeting the public health problems of alcohol.
And in there is the clue. Control is the goal and the health warnings are no more than hammering in the regulatory wedge a bit further.
VicHealth chief executive Todd Harper said health advisory messages were already required on alcohol labels in 43 countries. ''It's time Australia caught up with the rest of the world,'' he said.
Which is complete bollocks. As parents say to children, if the other kids all stick their hands in a fire would you do it? Would you, Todd? Okay, scaling things up, if a majority of countries flogged people for alcohol consumption would you want Australia to do it too? Besides, your maths is wrong. There are between 193 and 203 countries depending on how you choose to figure it, meaning that if 43 have alcohol health warnings Australia is currently one of the 150 who do not. Hardly catching up with the rest of the world when only a minority are doing it, is it?
Widely welcomed by health groups was a proposed system of ''multiple traffic light labelling'' giving red, amber or green lights for various nutrients such as fat and sugar.

Such a system should be voluntary, the panel found, but would become mandatory if manufacturers were making a particular health claim about their product, for example that it was high in calcium and good for bones.
Oh, God, not the fucking traffic lights again. And voluntary? As in this kind of voluntary?
Today’s consultation document will say brewers and distillers must publish health information on all bottles and cans of wine, beer and spirits.
The document will outline three options: that drinks firms voluntarily comply and print the warnings; that they be forced to do so by the Portman Group, the industry’s regulator; or that they will be forced to do so by law.
These are options? Like fuck are they. The industry may choose option 1 voluntarily, or the regulator will impose the terms of option 1 on them, or it will get the government to impose the terms of option 1 even more forcefully. This is fucking Mafia stuff: one way or another the choice is as false as offering any colour providing it's black. The whole consultation document exercise is just meaningless propaganda, a pretence at having a discussion over a policy that has already been decided upon.
That's the kind of voluntary that was being talked about in the UK last year.

Needless to say the drinks industry here, unlike their UK counterparts last February, aren't taking this lying down. Oh, no. They girded their loins and rolled up their sleeves in preparation to fight this tooth and na... oh.
... brewer Lion Nathan, which promised to ''voluntarily adopt consumer health messages that support responsible drinking choices, including during pregnancy''.

''Because we believe this is the right thing to do we will take these steps regardless of the pending government response to the report and the passage of enabling legislation,'' the company said in a statement.
Some days I fucking despair for the human race. Did I mention that?
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