People & Ideas

Nov 19, 2012

Dear preventative health wowsers: stop taking the piss

Some persistent themes run through campaigns by the preventive health lobby to ban and tax things. But should these taxpayer-funded elites be allowed to crack down on what they disapprove of?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Bucket full of beer

The medical profession and the growing, taxpayer-funded preventive health industry are engaged in a constant campaign against basic rights in the name of forcing Australians to become healthier. Media coverage of the campaign is episodic and sporadic. But pieced together, the nature of the campaign becomes clear — even when confined to the recent past.

In September, the taxpayer-subsidised Australian Drug Foundation called for alcohol consumption to be banned on school grounds because drinking at fetes or BBQs “undermines the alcohol education programs for young people in schools”.

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48 thoughts on “Dear preventative health wowsers: stop taking the piss

  1. Palmer Bill

    As someone who setup a (self-funded) health blog / business with a strong emphasis on preventative health, have to say I totally agree with your general sentiment. The real issue is finding a single point of focus to protest against such a bloated, primarily self-interested bureaucracy.

  2. Damien

    Too right Bernard. Up to 100 per cent of these claims are spurious and are promulgated simply because young people are snot-nosed know-alls who think they’ll live forever. They ought to be banned.

  3. Kevin & Julie Harris

    Dear Bernard

    “..Dear preventative health wowsers: stop taking the piss..”

    Oh really?!?!

    Both Julie and I are not happy with you. Yeah, you know what we mean. Is Julie really an “idiot”?

    If anyone tries to take our piss away from us, particularly if it’s hot enough to drink, then they’ll get a real donnybrook on their hands.

    And yes, we know it’s just more of the same govt revenue, tax and excise gouging, but lets not overlook that old chestnut and grand old lady the Nanny State. When she strikes up the band it’s the same old tune..aint it!?!?

    Anyway, Julies Father, Syd, came over last night and cracked a bottle of Johnny Walker’s finest..shoulda seen im, pissed as by 8.30 and I could n’t get him to leave. If ever old Syd died and was cremated it would take 3 months to put the fire out. He’s as sozzled as a pickled cucumber.

    Anyway, still not happy with you and your mate..hmmm!Nope!

    Yours SINcerely

    Kevin & Julie Harris

  4. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    As an ex-alcoholic and ex-smoker I agree that the wowserism is a pain in the proverbial. I am sick of PR types thinking that lecturing and taxation will prevent addictive behavior – it certainly didn’t stop me. I would also ask Journalists to be a little selective in their reporting of statistics. “Every time I hear X% of people will die every year from Y, so we need you money NOW!!”, I simply wonder what percentage are over 65. That’s the reason why I don’t lecture my 75 year old Mum to stop smoking and I’ll probably take it up again when I retire.
    The focus on quantity over quality is missing the point.

  5. Mary

    Look, pieces such as this one are fine, but instead of just bagging public health researchers why not propose the sensible alternative? Instead of penalising people for smoking and drinking educate people and offer them the opportunity to be active. Education and wealth are strongly linked to good health. The best health promotion activity we could undertake would be to provide a quality education including lots of physical activity at a young age and give everyone opportunity to further their education and be active. Instead of what we see now, the promotion of elite sports, rubbishing education budgets, etc.

  6. Jon Hunt

    Whilst I can sympathise with the overall resentment that flows from this article, I can also sympathise with the opposite. I have worked in Aboriginal health for some time and became entirely sick of seeing the negative aspects of drinking, with no attempts by anyone to do anything about this. The police, ambulance and the hospital were well aware of these problems. Granted, this isn’t applicable generally, and it was only a few that caused such a ruckus. But it does make me wonder how we can so readily accept something which is cardiotoxic, neurotoxic, hepatotoxic, psychotoxic, carcinogenic and probably a few other things so readily. I have seen examples of all of the above, in case you didn’t believe me!

  7. John Bennetts

    Fair point, Mary, but Crikey is a journal, not a bible. Authors only have a couple of thousand words to play with.

    Besides which, don’t we already see elite sports rubbished here regularly, but especially before and during Olympics and after front page stuff-ups by privileged drug-soaked brain-dead non-fee-paying members of sports academies and overpaid football mugginses? How much can this subject take before it becomes even more boring than it already is?

  8. a_swann

    i think the problem is that the health component of these activities becomes decoupled from the other social aspects. Of course from a health perspective it is a zero sum game – there is no benefit at all from drinking/smoking in terms of health aspects. but any analysis of what happens to a society when you prohibit vices has to take into account other factors, such as the emergence of a black market to furnish these vices, and a self righteous nanny state that doesn’t reflect the true human condition.

    mind you, i do think they should tax coke.

  9. Gratton Wilson

    No Nanny State and eat and drink what and how much you like certainly would allow individuals who chose that path to make their contribution to lessening the population. The trouble is that as they went along their journey they would also require a bundle of medical care and being good Australians they would expect that to provided by our health systems, public and private.Does excessive behavior warrant meeting you own health costs? Or do we all have to pay for others stupidity? We should be encouraging those trying to ensure reasonable behavior not ridiculing them.

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