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Bottoms up: the non-crisis of Australia’s alcohol consumption

The constant claims about the dangers of rising alcohol use in Australia don’t match reality. Crikey fact checks some of the statements made by the wowser lobby.

Another day, another report on the evils of alcohol. In a Fairfax article, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre yesterday declared ”young women are now abusing alcohol at levels similar to men”.

Michael Thorn of FARE  — an organisation about which Crikey will have more to say in coming weeks — was asked to weigh in, and condemned the “increase in drinking levels among women”. He then, at least in his quoted remarks, complained about “the way alcohol is promoted as a social norm” (not that it is a social norm, and has been so for millennia, but is promoted as such), which sent a bad message to young people — “parents drinking, the actions of their peers and the messages they’re getting about alcohol through advertising”.

The preventive health agenda for alcohol has been clear for some time: it’s the remorseless demonisation of the product, with the intent of doing to alcohol what was so successfully done to tobacco — to so discredit it that the community eventually supports draconian regulation to limit its use.

The signal difference — that the mere use of tobacco is harmful whereas the vast majority of alcohol consumers consume it safely and, indeed, obtain health benefits from it — is deliberately overlooked.

Part of the demonisation is to persistently claim that alcohol consumption is increasing (indeed, is “out of control” or an “epidemic”), that new threats are constantly being discovered, that there is “an urgent need for action to challenge Australia’s harmful drinking” as the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol puts it. So, let’s check some of the “facts” about alcohol in Australia …

Statement: drinking more than two standard drinks a day is “risky drinking” and you should avoid alcohol altogether

Herein lies a tale. Most people will recall the National Health and Medical Research Council 2009 revision of its alcohol guidelines, when it rather spectacularly jumped the shark by deciding to amend its recommendation of four standard drinks a day for men and two for women to two a day for everyone.

What’s less understood is exactly what the basis for the NHMRC’s recommendation is. It’s based on lifetime risk assessment: how likely are you to die from anything alcohol-related at a certain level of consumption. Anything  — dying while driving drunk, getting into a drunken fight, or eventually dying from an alcohol-related disease. And the basis for the two drink a day recommendation is 0.9% for men — as in, less than 1% of people consuming two drinks a day will die from an alcohol-related cause at some point.

And if you don’t drink-drive, and you don’t get into fights when you drink, then the risk is halved. The risk is 0.4% for alcohol-related diseases for men and women at two standard drinks a day. The risk increases the more you drink, obviously — thus the phrase “risky drinking”. But how “risky”? You have to drink eight drinks a day in order to get over 5% risk of alcohol-related disease if you’re a male, and over five drinks a day if you’re a woman.

To put that into context, as the NHMRC itself notes, “the lifetime risk of dying in a traffic accident associated with driving 10,000 miles a year in the US has been calculated to be about one in 60,” or about 1.7%.

But, say you wanted to live a risk-free life. Say four people in 1000 wasn’t good enough odds for you. Why not just not drink? That’s what bodies like the Cancer Council recommend.

Well, if you don’t drink, you miss out on the health benefits of alcohol, particularly if you’re older: as the NHMRC explains in its guidelines, light to moderate drinking (up to two standard drinks) has been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk, improve bone density and, perhaps, protect against dementia.

Some preventive health industry figures claim these benefits are “contested” but currently there are no substantiated, up-to-date studies that have disputed the long history of studies demonstrating health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption.

Statement: alcohol consumption is growing

Look closely and you’ll always see some careful phrasing around the issue of how much we’re drinking: the preventive health industry won’t come out and say that alcohol consumption is growing, but they’ll claim alcohol consumption among young people is on the rise, or binge drinking is on the rise, or that Australia has a high rate of consumption compared to other countries, or as we saw above, alcohol consumption by women is rising. But the general tenor is that the alcohol problem is getting worse.

Wrong. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in fact shows daily drinking fell from 2004 to 2007 and fell again from 2007 to 2010. Indeed, the government’s own Preventative Health Taskforce published the following table, which shows daily alcohol consumers falling and non-drinkers rising:

But, curiously, the accompanying text in the report makes no mention at all of that. ABS data similarly shows per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia falling significantly — by nearly a quarter — since the 1970s.

Nor is drinking by young people on the rise. Remember the moral panic Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon tried to whip up early in Labor’s first term about what they claimed was an “epidemic” of binge drinking? It was rubbish. The same Preventative Health Taskforce report showed short-term risky drinking by 14-19 year olds, both male and female, falling significantly between 2001 and 2007.

And what about young women? Well, they were binge drinking less too, according to the taskforce report. And the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found female drinking down for daily, weekly and less than weekly, and found a rise in ex-drinkers and non-drinkers.

Statement: the damage from alcohol consumption is growing

All of which means the most recent tack tried by the preventive health industry, to claim that alcohol is causing massive economic damage (as part of its campaign to lift alcohol taxation), comes heavily caveated. Even accepting the industry’s assumption-laden calculations about the damage caused by alcohol (putting it at $36 billion a year) and “harm to others” at $15 billion, the claim that “alcohol-related harms in Australia are increasing“ made by FARE plainly doesn’t stand up: alcohol consumption is falling; the only way for the preventive health industry to somehow claim that harms are increasing is to again alter their assumptions to produce still-higher outcomes from their commissioned modelling.

Bear all this in mind next time you see yet another media report about the alcohol crisis apparently besetting Australia.

51
  • 1
    paddy
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    What can I say but cheers Bernard. Such an excellent piece.

  • 2
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article, yes, thanks BK.

  • 3
    wilful
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoy this little hobby horse of yours BK, always quite amusing. Far more amusing and easy to agree with than your ones about compulsory voting and unrestricted free speech.

  • 4
    Holden Back
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Now you’ve gone and introduced facts into the debate - again! - just not fair.

  • 5
    Phen
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Nice. I was just contemplating a Friday arvo beer too!

  • 6
    StarrWinkle
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Personally I think 2 drinks a day Every Day is a lot, and few people would keep it up. If I drink I drink to get drunk - sounds bad right? So I drink maybe once every few weeks or sometimes go months without drinking. Drinking habits change with age and incomes and lifestyles.

    The “cost to society of vice” accounting is always very dodgy. For a start do they subtract the savings that come with premature deaths? Old people are a huge expense to society. If you don’t do that you aren’t genuine. It’s common for them to claim income earned is a benefit to society - yeah those people who knock on your door selling solar are a net financial benefit to society. A lot of jobs are scratching each other’s backs, if one dies there’s one less back to scratch. Crazy accounting.

    Good to see people hitting back against the nannies.

  • 7
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing that Fairfax article wasn’t placed adjacent to a pitch from one of their brewery advertisers.

  • 8
    Rohan
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    We’ve grown increasingly anally retentive about health over the last couple of decades. Mostly it’s a good thing, and reflects improvements in science and the level of societal awareness around activities potentially harmful to quality and longevity of life.

    But the annoying flipside is organisations like FARE making shit up to remain relevant. I see a lot of parallels with those peddling denial about our falling crime rates.

  • 9
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    StarrWinkle - “Personally I think 2 drinks a day Every Day is a lot” You have to remember these a standard deinks you are talking about, It’s about 1.5 Stubbies or a decent glass of wine.
    A beer when you get home from work and a wine with your tea and you are well over.

  • 10
    mikeb
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    @jimmy. A standard drink is around 0.7 of a stubby (depending on the alc% and stubby volume) so when you look at a stubby label it will say “contains 1.4 standard drinks” - or similar. Wine is only around 100ml per standard which isn’t very much at all. A glass of red at my house would probably top 3 times that amount!

  • 11
    Holden Back
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    @Jimmy, I think you are overestimating the size of a standard drink. A stubby of most full strength beers is 1.3 standard drinks- a Coopers ale is 1.7 - and an average 12.5% wine gives 7.5 standard drinks per bottle, bigger reds up to 8.7. So that makes a standard drink about two-third of a stubby (or just over half a Coopers!)and between 86 and 100 mls of wine. Or 35 ml of most spirits.

    Anyhow, nearly martini o’clock.

  • 12
    Frank Birchall
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Without arguing with statistical trends, or motivations of organisations etc, I simply say that binge drinking by teenagers, especially those under 18, and the all-too-often related violence and sexual assault, should be unacceptable in a civilised society. Moreover, as a piece of anecdotal evidence, I have no recollection of such behaviour 40 odd years ago.

  • 13
    Haber Paul
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Dear Bernard,
    there can be no doubt that alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor for ill health world wide (ranks #3 in Global Burden of Disease Study, Lancet Dec 2012) and that Australia is a country with high levels of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. sometimes the facts can be oversimplified in media grabs and you can correctly pick up errors from time to time. That is just sophistry : argument for its own sake. It will not make alcohol problems go away: 3000+ deaths per annum and 100000+ hospital admissions remain. As a doctor in a public hospital, I see the damage every working day. Come visit the hospital one day, see what you think.

  • 14
    Salamander
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    You are doing a bit of cherry-picking of your own here. If as Graph 3 appears to show, overall alcohol consumption has remained the same or risen slightly between 1991 and 2001, and if as shown in Table 2 over the same period, the frequency of drinking has declined, it follows that the average amount consumed per occasion has risen.

    The adverse health claims are about risky patterns of drinking, including excessive drinking among specific age and gender groups. Deteriorating subgroups may not be compensated by others in the overall picture when it comes to calculating health costs. The broad averages you have presented do not bear on this issue. But they would be consistent with an increase in binge drinking since 1991.

  • 15
    Salamander
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, “betwee 1991 and 2011”.

  • 16
    Holden Back
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Data is not the plural of anecdotes.

  • 17
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Australia is a country with high levels of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems

    That is, if not quite a lie, then certainly dishonest. Australia is very near the bottom of the table for consumption of commercially produced alcohol among high-income countries. The Canadians, Yanks, Kiwis and Kiwis drink slightly less than us (all are in the 9.5-10 litres of alcohol per year range). Norwegians and Icelanders drink significantly less. Every European country except those two drinks more, as do the Koreans, Nigerians and Ugandans.

    So you can only claim Australia is at “high levels” if you also include mid- and low-income countries, which is a ridiculous thing to do since a) a far higher % of people are too poor to afford consumer goods in general; b) people in low-income countries who drink are far more likely to drink homemade or illegally made alcohol which doesn’t show up in comparison data.

    as a piece of anecdotal evidence, I have no recollection of such behaviour 40 odd years ago.

    I don’t remember my teen binge drinking much either - although I do remember the day after…

  • 18
    Harry1951
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I usually drink 1-2 glasses of wine a day with my evening meal. I don’t doubt Haber Paul’s comment that this country has alcohol problems. I think it is a matter of targeting those who drink to excess and leave the rest of us alone.

  • 19
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Harry1951 - here here!b

    Frank - Re. binge drinking - forty years ago I was an engineering student and, er, er, er….

  • 20
    Steve777
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I have no recollection of such behaviour 40 odd years ago.”

    I do, and mornings after. Pubs and clubs were much more crowded on Friday and Saturday nights and on week days after work than they are now. No one thought four middies was binge drinking. While the breathalyser had been introduced a few years previously, it had at that time minimal impact. Look at the pubs built in the 1970’s in outer suburbs, surrounded by huge (now mostly empty) car parks.

    I get the impression that the current generation of young people are relatively abstemious. There are individuals with problems who drink themselves stupid and get into fights or car crashes and if they survive that go on to ruin their health and their’s and their family’s lives. It’s a problem now and it was a problem back then.

    The majority of drinkers do so responsibly, as the tiny proportion of motorists caught by RBT attests. These problem drinkers aren’t just having three or four drinks after work and stopping there. Any efforts to tackle the problems caused by alcohol should be based upon the truth and should be targeting the real problems.

  • 21
    Harry Rogers
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Hey Bernie Im with you ! Excessive use of alcohol no problem cheers!

    Seriously its not about the drinker it’s about the people who bear the brunt of excessive alcohol…children and wives and husbands.

    THe damage, not just now, but over hundreds of years is the poor silly bastards who have to accept your excessive alcohol consumption.

    The puritans who demonised tobacco for, what I consider, self prurient control views have problems with alcohol because they ae the biggest users of the substance.

  • 22
    Richard Koser
    Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, your stats refute your assertions. If the average alcohol consumption is 10 litres a year, that’s 1000 standard drinks, more than two a day. Strip out the non-drinkers and you’re over three standard drinks a day. If you want to prove “the vast majority” of drinkers get health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption, you need to show that a vast majority of drinkers actually drink less than the recognised beneficial dose (2 drinks max). You haven’t. In fact, according to theae stats only 8 per cent of us drink daily (and if we’re talking medicinal qualities, you want a slow steady drinking pattern rather than a Friday night blinder), so there has to be a fair bit of bingeing. In real life, most Aussies drink more than we should and we can’t have a sensible debate about alcohol unless we start from there.

  • 23
    zac48
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    There’s a rumor getting around that Julia Gillard has been taking performance enhancing drugs and Labor Party refuse to report her to the ACC.

  • 24
    Tim nash
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Young people are different today, the numbers show the truth.

    People just get frustrated with bogans who drink their life away, I think that’s what this is all about.

    They want to use their health to pull the bottle away from their mouth and maybe change their life.

  • 25
    Mina
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I can’t continue to comment on the article on banning alcohol in Indigenous community because my trial period has finished.

    Can someone produce the rates for alcohol related illness in the NT Indigenous population like liver disease, brain damage etc and the rate of admissions to hospital before the intervention ban and after it, and compare to non-indigenous population. The PM said the number of admissions dropped about 10 or 11 thousands after the ban, but I’m not sure if that includes only severe case of overdose and excludes other types of health problem.

  • 26
    Percy Pigeon
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I don’t like having the risks of my drinking pointed out to me.That I should even have to hear about this is just wrong.

    I drink alcohol and I think I am a responsible and good person.

    It can’t be that be that I might be wise to alter my behaviour to fit my perception of myself. That might involve a moment or two of honest self reflection, and my ego defences won’t allow that!

    So any talk that might prod me to reconsider my drinking habits must be overblown, dishonest nonsense from a bunch of self righteous ascetic nanny staters.

    The health benefits of alcohol - oh, so proven beyond doubt, and so obviously more important than the harms I’m likely to do to myself or others - particularly others because who cares about those people anyway everyone should be responsible for themselves and not get in the way where my fist can punch them or my car can hit them or my hands can grope them.

    The harms of alcohol are definitely overblown, and certainly nowhere near as dangerous and detrimental as people discussing the harms of alcohol. That I will not stand for.

    As for that Dr Haber Paul - stop oppressing me with your recounting of your own experience. As a doctor in a public hospital who sees the traumatic and damaging results of alcohol on a daily basis, you are clearly biased and probably have some sort of ulterior agenda, like wanting to free up time and resources to deal with human ailments that are less preventable than alcohol related harms.

    I’m a good responsible person, and your recommendations and cautions can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do. So there, nanny staters!

  • 27
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Percy, you are not a person so none of this applies to you.

  • 28
    Milanion20
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    So I guess that the report proves that indigenous people up north do not have a problem with alcohol.

    So the NT Government is right in allowing it in those and adjacent communities.

    Jenny Macklin please note!

  • 29
    Jo Justin
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Obviously, these figures are the direct result of all those health warnings, even if they have been skewed in the past! It isn’t hard to envisage people will not be so cautious about their drinking after this article!

  • 30
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I usually drink 1-2 glasses of wine a day with my evening meal. I don’t doubt Haber Paul’s comment that this country has alcohol problems. I think it is a matter of targeting those who drink to excess and leave the rest of us alone.

    The prohibitionists have no interest in limiting their scope to “problem” drinkers. They want everyone to be teetotallers like them.

  • 31
    GeeWizz
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m drinking for Australia right now…

    Isn’t it interesting though how the lefties(read:Greens) wanna stop people from having a beer, but they have no problem with legalising heroin and other dangerous drugs.

  • 32
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Moreover, as a piece of anecdotal evidence, I have no recollection of such behaviour 40 odd years ago.

    My father certainly does. Before RBTs were commonplace, people of his generation would think nothing of spending 2-3 hours at the pub and then driving home, or heading back from a regional office visit on a 3 hour drive with a six pack or two on the passenger seat to drink on the way. The massive reduction in drink driving over the last few decades is probably the single biggest reason the road toll has improved so much.

    Personally speaking, twenty years ago it was not at all unusual for high school students (15+ years old) to be heading out to parties with a bottle of rum or a carton of beer to drink, generally with “don’t ask, don’t tell” tacit approval from their parents. With the growing prevalence of helicopter parenting and media beatups, I struggle to believe teenagers today are drinking any more, or even as much as, I did in my youth, and from listening to my parents (and relatives only ~10 years older), we certainly weren’t doing anything they hadn’t.

    My experience is that the more exposure someone has to alcohol in daily life from a younger age (eg: a glass of wine with dinner starting in the mid-teens), the more likely they are to be able to drink sensibly, know how to pace themselves, know when they were getting drunk (which can vary substantially from person to person, drink to drink and even event to event) and most importantly know when to stop. Living on campus at Uni with a lot of exchange students coming through, we saw it over and over again - the ones who got into the most trouble with alcohol were the Americans and the ones the least, Europeans.

  • 33
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it interesting though how the lefties(read:Greens) wanna stop people from having a beer, but they have no problem with legalising heroin and other dangerous drugs.

    Less “interesting”, more “completely false”.

  • 34
    Patriot
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    The extreme Greens website included this in their drug policy in August last year:

    24.introduce the regulated use of cannabis

    33.increase the availability of harm reduction programs, including needle and syringe exchanges and medically supervised injecting rooms and implement a rigorous scientific trial of prescribed heroin

    Can’t find it there now but it still turns up on the NSW Greens section of the website if you Google it. Maybe hiding that sort of thing was the motivation behind ditching policy in favour of “aims and principles”. Free heroin and pot on prescription isn’t an articulated policy anymore. It’s just an aim or principle now. An undisclosed one so long as you have a short memory and don’t go poking too deep into their website.

  • 35
    Patriot
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Green are against betting, smoking and drinking but in favour of gays, publicly subsidised drugs and polygamy. Under the Greens you wouldn’t be able to go to a pub and have a bet and a smoke but you could go to a state-run injecting room and have a drug-fueled gay orgy. They are nuts!

  • 36
    Jim Moore
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    So you’re a smoker too Mr Keane, or at least you’re happy to use Big Oil and Big Tobacco arguments to suit your defensive denial of your alcohol problem. E.g the “preventative health industry” - that must be in the building next to the lab all those scientists work at who are claimed by Andrew Bolt to be on the grant gravy train. “Draconian legislation” against tobacco - you mean Australian legislation that follows the trend set by Stalinist places like New York and California. Get help man, you’re really boring me with these posts.

  • 37
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    The introduction of “dope smoking” into Australia was as a result of the Vietnam War R&R program which responded to demands from visiting US troops.
    Incidentally where all the “Rightwing” or criminal dominance of the major political partie arose, a sort of “legal” protection racket.
    Does not sound very extreme Green to me.
    Anecdotally the increasing use of “dope”,( as in dope is for dopes), calmed down the Saturday night is the night for fighting effect of binge drinking,
    The side effects for the dopers, short-term memory loss and tolerance requiring ever increasing doses and the gateway effect whereby “Shortages” were replaced with opiates, spoiled any “alternative”.
    Later generations of binge drinkers seem to have returned to the pre R&R days. Must be very “profitable”.
    And don’t worry the political parties were similarly debauched by the fortunes to be made protecting the prostitution and gambling rackets of the War in the Pacific.(Ready to pick-up again with Vietnam)
    But sure, blaming all this on the Greens does seem to offer some protection for the major party criminals, doesn’t it? Keep up the good work there, Gee Wizz and Putridiot sorry, Patriot.

  • 38
    Graeme
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    750ml wine bottles are a mystery to me. As far as I know there was no standard in the past, we somehow evolved to that metric ‘fifth’.

    But assuming a couple sharing a bottle, 7-8 standard drinks divided by two is more than safe for him and her.
    And it’s foolish to set a recommended standard that implies you should tip out a third of a good bottle (or let it oxidize to vinegar or cooking wine).

    Why doesn’t the government mandate sale of 500 ml wine at the proportionate price?

  • 39
    drsmithy
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    The extreme Greens website included this in their drug policy in August last year:

    Aaand….? Is there a point here ?

    Green are against betting, smoking and drinking but in favour of gays, publicly subsidised drugs and polygamy. Under the Greens you wouldn’t be able to go to a pub and have a bet and a smoke but you could go to a state-run injecting room and have a drug-fueled gay orgy. They are nuts!

    Guess not. Just more lies and stupidity.

  • 40
    iggy648
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    If you want to check the stats on your personal consumption, the details on risk levels are in Appendix A5, around page 135 of the NHMRC publication.

  • 41
    Tom Mullin
    Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I am sooo surprised at all this .. actually I’m not. I predicted years ago that after the smokers were beaten up it would be the drinkers turn.

    Health’ lobbies using dodgy statistics, arguments and studies … really? Never.

    Been through all this with smoking, where it is a tie between the tobacco companies and the anti-smoking groups as to who lies the most, though the anti-smoking groups seem to have edged ahead over recent years.

    Dodgy (or downright made up) stats, dodgy costings, absurd logic, selective use of research, a presumption that it is for some ‘great and good’ group to rule on individual behaviour (since we poor proles are obviously too stupid to make decisions about what risks we personally wish to take).

    Yep we’ve had the lot over smoking (and before that saturated fats, pot, heroin, et al).

    So now it is the drinkers turn to face attention from these neo-abolitionists and make no mistake they are abolitionists at their core. No different from their predecessors here in Australia in the 1880’s to 1920’s, just different tactics (though the lying is a constant tactic that is used).

    As the old saying goes:
    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist…………..

  • 42
    Patriot
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Drsmithy, the point is that the extreme Greens do indeed want to make it easier for people to do heroin, pot and other drugs and they want taxpayers to pick up the bill. If they were consistent they’d be asking for state-run bars serving free booze to alcoholics. Maybe free taxis too. They’re not but. They’re a bunch of loony hypocrites.

  • 43
    Patriot
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Current Greens drugs “aims”, which are still accessed by cliking on the policies link - oops!

    13. A reduction in harmful substance abuse, including smoking rates that are close to zero and alcohol consumption patterns that are within the limits recommended by public health experts…

    18. The regulated use of THC

    19. Increased availability of harm reduction programs including drug-substitution therapy, medically supervised injecting rooms

    Pot, shooting up good, smoking bad.

    29. No advertising promotions of alcohol in sport, that target young people..

    They should ban themselves from advertising promotion that targets young people. They’re offering to hand out hard drugs to anyone who wants them.

  • 44
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    A putrid, idiotic argument there Patriot providing peotection for the right wing profiting from “legalised” gambling and addiction protected from competition.
    Why did post-revolutionary federal authorities in the US prohibit throughexploitative excises the home brewing od whisky by the Scots-Irish soldeirs of the former revolutionary army?
    Criminalising those to whom they had promised tracts of valuable land in order to suppress those most capable od armed assertion of their rights?
    So much for the revolution with the rightards reasserting their control of the economy and entrenching the poor white trash status of those Scots-Irish outsiders in those former English colonies.
    But Australia is a whole universe of its own, lightyears distant from any connection with the recent historical past?
    Sorry for boring you all with “irrelevancies”.
    So who was it who legalised “home brewing” again?
    Someone called Gough?
    Sly grog shops? The Rum Corps? History one of those extinct Australian creatures?
    It is alright Bush Babies, just go back to sleep all that history stuff is a bad dream and you’ll wake to your happy isolated ignorance in the morning.

  • 45
    Sparrow
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    Like a lot of my fellow australians i am getting old and I’ve noticed that most people my age fall asleep after a couple of drinks. So if the statistics are correct, then the young are drinking more.

  • 46
    drsmithy
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Drsmithy, the point is that the extreme Greens do indeed want to make it easier for people to do heroin, pot and other drugs and they want taxpayers to pick up the bill. If they were consistent they’d be asking for state-run bars serving free booze to alcoholics. Maybe free taxis too. They’re not but. They’re a bunch of loony hypocrites.

    So much wrong in so little space. Do you need to practice this or are you employed for your natural talents ?

  • 47
    drsmithy
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Pot, shooting up good, smoking bad.

    They should ban themselves from advertising promotion that targets young people. They’re offering to hand out hard drugs to anyone who wants them.

    It’s pretty dumb to quote something and then lie about what it says. Who do you think you’re going to convince ?

  • 48
    K.D. Afford
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    My father always said that if you cannot drink two (big) bottles of beer a day you should see a doctor. He also said, “Work hard and play hard,” and did and lived to 83.

  • 49
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    But assuming a couple sharing a bottle, 7-8 standard drinks divided by two is more than safe for him and her.

    No, it’s below the level that’s been shown by any actual data to cause harm; it’s merely above the level that the wowsers have made up.

  • 50
    Peter
    Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    True, we don’t have a problem with alcohol.

    We have a problem with obnoxious arseholes feeling entitled to piss down on everybody else from a great height after a few drinks.

    And that’s a cultural problem Australia has to face up to.

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