Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter


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?


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”.

The same month, the Australian Medical Association called for the legal drinking age to be lifted to 25 (presumably because prohibition has worked so well in the past). In June, the AMA demanded a complete ban on alcoholic energy drinks.

Last week, Sandra Jones, director of the Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong, attacked online wine sites for selling at “ridiculously low prices”, declaring (without evidence) “it’s typically young people who are more likely to be on social media and on these group buying sites”. Jones wants a minimum price for alcohol. Her comments are part of strengthening campaign from public health types to impose additional taxes on alcohol.

The new headquarters of the preventative health industry, the $9 million Australian National Preventive Health Agency, recently released a discussion paper proposing an increase in wine taxation and more research for a minimum alcohol price, including the localised imposition of a minimum price in some areas.

The call to make alcohol more expensive is propped up by some interesting maths about the alleged economic cost of alcohol. The taxpayer-subsidised Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education has released a commissioned report arguing not merely for a shift to volumetric alcohol taxation, but a lift in all alcohol taxes. The basis for the argument was the extraordinary claim that alcohol causes $15 billion per annum in “harm to others”, including nearly $8 billion pa in “loss of quality of life” (the basis for these numbers was disputed by Access Economics, on behalf of the alcohol industry).

The persistent demonisation of alcohol is a core driver of preventive health campaigning (Chris Berg pointed out one of the more absurd examples). In 2009, The Australian prised from the Commonwealth Department of Health a report that proposed to force employers to discourage alcohol consumption on the basis that “in some work settings, workers who do not normally drink in their own leisure time may find it expected of them by their colleagues or workplace” and that Australia’s drinking culture was “calculated hedonism”.

Another report from the National Drug Research Institute this year supported workplace breath-testing. This is despite the fact that as FARE itself admitted in a Senate inquiry submission, Australian alcohol consumption had fallen by nearly a third since 1975. The submission also claimed Australia’s level of consumption was “high by world standards”, a claim that only holds when non-developed countries are counted. Australia’s level of consumption is below that of virtually every European country, and often far below.

Demonisation of young people is another persistent feature. This time last year, Sandra Jones was joining the annual schoolies hysteria by warning “almost two-thirds will have more than 10 drinks a night and ‘hook’ up s-xually with a stranger”, presumably on the basis that no previous generations have ever engaged in binge drinking or casual s-x. A WA parliamentary committee wanted to lift the drinking age to 21, though the Barnett government knocked them back.

As two liquor outlets last week posted guards at stores in order to somehow divine that adults were buying alcohol for people under 18, we were warned of the evil genius of young people: “you’ll see four or five down the road or across the road in the park pooling some money and that one who is 18 will come in.” FARE has demanded the NSW government institute sting operations to catch out any retailers selling alcohol to under-18s and the removal of legal defences against doing so. Then there’s the proposal to ban young people from smoking from 2018.

This approach accords neatly with traditional media narratives about uncontrolled youth and their unprecedented violence/drug use/s-xual activity/poor taste in music/hair styles; all the better if the internet (which is of course distorting the brains of young users) can be added to the mix.

Yes, the internet, too, worries the preventive health industry. It is still valiantly fighting to have alcohol advertising banned altogether from traditional media but it has been looking at the internet and warning of disaster for a while. “Anecdotal evidence suggests online social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, may hold a range of potential risks in facilitating social interactions involving alcohol that my have potentially harmful repercussions,” warned a 2008 report (the fact that no one used MySpace after about 2006 suggests how on the ball the report’s authors were).

And last year ANPHA gave more than $250,000 to a University of Sydney academic to examine “how the rapid emergence and mass adoption of new media tools, including social networking websites, may be promoting unhealthy foods, influencing dietary choices and contributing to excessive weight gain” and how “effective marketing regulations” could be used to deal with it.

A fortnight ago a workplace relations lawyer called for the banning of access to gambling sites from work for health reasons, comparing them to p-rnography and race hate sites.  Croakey’s Melissa Sweet has also covered the rather censorious tone toward social media adopted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in its draft social media policy. Sydney University researchers recently demanded the banning of what they called “pro-smoking apps” for mobile devices.

The instinctive urge of preventive health advocates is always to ban us, to tax us, to use surveillance. This doesn’t merely apply to companies, but to individuals. Only yesterday, two medical professionals made the astonishing proposal that everyone in the country currently using opioid pain relief should be regularly drug tested to make sure they were consuming them rather than selling them. A German study on alcohol consumption in effect infantilised all women when it suggested GPs start interrogating their female patients about how much they drink.

Veteran anti-smoking campaigner and respected health academic Simon Chapman recently proposed licensing and smartcard sales-tracking of smokers, although commendably he had enough intellectual rigour to invite a critic of the proposal to respond. Licensing, and the control and surveillance that it enables, is a popular tactic for public health advocates — former NT administrator and anti-alcohol campaigner Ted Evans has called for licensing of alcohol consumption.

Sometimes there’s nothing overly sinister about demands for regulation — they’re just a cover for old-fashioned gouging: the AMA has joined with a pharmacy chain in demanding that supermarkets be banned from selling panadol because “you can buy 100 tablets for hardly any money”.

There’s little new in all this. Last year, a coalition of preventive health groups demanded the Victorian government move to curb the number of liquor licences. Between trying to reduce the number of alcohol retailers and using taxation to increase the price, the preventive health industry has moved precisely nowhere in over 250 years since the Gin Craze of 18th century England. In what has been called the first drug scare in history, mid-18th century British governments, spurred by an outraged middle class, used exactly the same tactics to attack the prevalence of gin consumption among poorer English people who, it was felt, drank too much and didn’t work hard enough.

It’s fascinating how little the justification for such crackdowns has changed. Attempts to regulate and tax gin out of the reach of poorer people were justified by not merely by moral righteousness but on economic grounds: gin was damaging the capacity of English women to produce children, and consumption of gin caused poverty and idleness in an economy struggling to compete with its European rivals.

The economic justification is no longer couched in such melodramatic terms. Instead, it relies on QALYs — Quality Adjusted Life Years, and AWE-based calculations of lost productivity. But the motivation remains the same: social élites anxious to impose control on what they disapprove of. The big difference now is that nearly all of this is taxpayer-funded: we are paying these élites to rationalise banning, taxing and using surveillance over what they disapprove of.


We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

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.

  10. David Coles

    Thanks Bernard for a good story

    Just as it is counter productive to try to regulate all forms of foolish behaviour it is also difficult to justify sitting back and doing nothing. Banning cigarettes would never have worked – just as banning other drugs hasn’t – but there has been a dramatic reduction in smoking through the use of a range of other strategies. Very similar strategies are in being pursued by some in relation to alcohol abuse. Just as with tobacco, reductions wont happen quickly enough for some or slowly enough for others.

    We are making progress. But that makes a lousy story.

  11. gerard

    Well, we are the the most obese in the world. Add to that our Anglo- gene inherited fondness for binge drinking by the very young and I am not surprised at the attention being given to try and do something.
    Try and walk around the children play- ground and see the smashed vodka-fortified lemonade bottles scattered around. Go and visit the children in hospitals suffering diabetes 2 and see if you don’t come away from being horrified on what our dietary habits and alcohol are leading to?

  12. Fool

    I totally agree Bernard. Absolutely sick of moral entrepreneurs foisting their views on the rest of society. It is also sickening to see the constant war and disenfranchisement against the youth, the future leaders, in our society. The constant erosion of freedom’s and rights by the ‘elite’, those in power, is sickening, and detrimental to the very core of human existence.

  13. Timble

    Defending the basic right of parents and teachers to get pissed together at schools is wrong on so many different levels Bernard. My kids recoil from this stuff. Hope they’ll be the preventative health champions of the future and make use of the paltry taxpayer funded crumbs that’ll get sent their way.

  14. Charles Alpren

    There is nothing wrong with encouraging healthy choices. Nowadays so much is presented, as Bernard points out, in cold, hard economic terms, it is unsurprising that the public health interventions recommended to enable these choices to be made are often money orientated themselves – price hikes.

    Furthermore, we are not dealing with a level playing field here. ‘Preventative Health Wowsers’ are not shouting in an empty room, they are trying to be heard above the din of influences that subtly push individuals to a point where they are more likely to make unhealthy choices be that ease of access to cheap alcohol, rows upon rows of sugar containing sweets or a cultural normalisation of gambling with incessant adverts.

    I fully sympathise with these wowsers. Let people make choices, but make sure they are fair and informed.

  15. CML

    I am totally fed up with the “nanny state”. Mary suggests we all need educating, but what about those of us who know everything there is to know about smoking, drinking, eating etc., and still prefer to do a little of each of these things? Frankly, I think what we do with our own bodies is a personal decision.
    It has got to the point that recently I have been verbally attacked at the checkout counter (by other customers), for buying a packet of cigarettes and a couple of bottles of wine (at different times). No one has the right to do that. I just tell them I’m here for a good time, not a long time, and that they are a bunch of wowsers! And of course, to mind there own business!!

  16. Konrad Reardon

    As a qualified pharmacist, while I firmly agree with Crikey’s correspondent that there is a precedent demonstrating the futility of drug prohibition, there is a wider angle to preventive healthcare which this article misses completely.

    There has been little appreciable change to the drug usage patterns of Australians in the decades since control of certain substances began. The main changes have been the types of drugs used with a new worrying trend towards the usage of prescription and over-the-counter medications. This was the subject of a recent forum – Australia21.

    However, to condemn the entire preventive approach to healthcare simply on a small number of policies is incorrect, and as a keen student of rhetoric, Crikey’s correspondent should be aware that it is often unwise to make absolute statements (ie The instinctive urge of preventive health advocates is always to ban us). Preventive health policy does not just concern medical professionals – it includes sanitation, civil engineering projects, public transport, parks and wildlife and even occupational health and safety. The more specifically medical areas, according to the McKeown hypothesis, contribute relatively little to overall public health (although there has been a drop in infectious disease rates since the introduction of antibiotics and vaccination; hopefully a similar positive effect may be seen with breast and cervical cancer screening).

    “Prevention is better than cure” is a favourite saying – and overall it is definitely cheaper – yet the outcomes are difficult to account for because they often concern intangibles. For example, smokers contribute enough through the excise charged to more than cover their direct health costs. However, there is a much higher indirect cost of smoking which includes health risks to people inhaling the smoke, transport/work days lost for friends/family caring for people with chronic smoking-related illnesses and the long-term effect on children of women who smoke while pregnant. Please note that I do not intend to vilify smokers with this example – it is an illustration used because smoking is one of the more publicly noticeable health risks. There less obvious, but far more dangerous health risks than smoking.

    Crikey’s correspondent characterises the use of QALYs as being wholly negative – a justification of the policies of wowsers. In truth, the QALY is a crude measure of health risks and benefits. In this capitalist society where everything is measured in terms of money spent/saved, what else is going to be the yardstick of healthcare. We would like to be able to measure pain, happiness, suffering and dignity but this may not yet be possible. If it suits Crikey’s correspondent better, it might be useful to think of the QALY as a measure of life wasted unnecessarily.

    The argument for freedom from Nanny State regulation is well worth mentioning – though only a brief comment is needed. The home of personal freedom is said to be United States of America. I need not go into too much detail about the state of individual health in that country. Personal freedom comes with personal responsibility – if it is up to the marketing boards of cigarette, alcohol, food and other luxury goods manufacturers to emphasise personal freedom, then someone must be left to at least help people become aware of the consequences of their actions. I don’t like being labelled as a “wowser” simply because I might advocate for people to enjoy life as far as possible without hurting themselves and others too much.

    Finally, as wars and natural disasters displace many hundreds of thousands of people across the world, the value of preventive health should become much more obvious as the spread of physical and mental illness can hopefully be alleviated by brave and selfless aid workers on the ground.

  17. Konrad Reardon

    Please accept my apologies for the poor punctuation in the above comment. It was written in haste and would have benefitted from close proofreading.

  18. tonyfunnywalker

    An excellent article Bernard. The History of the control of alcohol is fascinating. Alcohol control was fashionable in the 19th and early 20th century and in Australia the six O’clock swill was finally repealed in the 1960’s. Driven bt the Temperance movements globally they culminated in Prohibition in the US and the evils of prohibition was well illustrated in the recent SBS series – Broad Walk Empire and included Al Capone. Liquor control is still practised in Canada and Scandinavia. It is interesting that alcohol related disease increased during Prohibition as a result of a lack of quality monitoring ( alcohol is a foodstuff) and the production of moonshine. It is estimated that moonshine and Bootlegging in Scandinavia represents over 40% of consumption.
    Minimum pricing will in the same way not curtail consumption and as has occurred in Canada where there is a high taxation regime home brewers and winemakers will flourish.
    I agree there needs to be a curtailment of binge drinking but price is not the answer as for those readers who purchase alcohol at entertainment venues realise they are paying well over the odds for their tipple of choice.
    The tax hike on Alcopops is said to be effective but the consumer has switched to substitutes such as recreational drugs which are a much better ” bang for your buck”.
    There is a need for greater education of the consumer and the resellers a campaign that the alcohol industry is engaged. The History of Alcohol use and abuse is measured in millennia and the success of regulation is sparse if not counter productive and will not be solved by simplistic measures such as minimum pricing.
    In Australia Liquor marketing is strictly regulated pays

  19. Bill Parker

    “Anglo – gene inherited fondness for binge drinking”? What?? Being an “anglo” and consuming and enjoyed fair share of every type of alcohol, I can state: I never heard of binge drinking before I met any Aussies. The sheer volumes consumed in Earl’s Court in the late 60s were staggering, bathtubs full of Fosters large cans were the norm. Never saw anything like it in my life.

    As for the report, Bernard – right on. Prohibition is a good way of making alcohol the sought after thing.

  20. michael crook

    wow, interesting comments. BUT……we are facing an epidemic of food and alcohol related illnesses due to the effectiveness of the advertising industry. I drink alcohol, but am learning that a lot of my previous food choices especially were not wise. We relied too much on organisations like FSANZ to regulate food additives and and addictive substances and they fell down on the job. If the so called “nanny state” lets people see what self destructive food choices we are making then that would be a good thing. Junk food especially, is the new tobacco.

  21. Bob Durnan

    Bernard – for shame. It looks very much as though you have swallowed the IPA alcohol deregulation file whole, and regurgitated it in a way that would make Chris Berg and his sponsors feel quite proud. I am surprised by your willingness to write this propaganda, and astonished to see Crikey willing to publish such ideological drivel.
    Interesting also to see that the anonymous friends and allies of the alcohol industry are out and about in such numbers. Could it be that there is a bit of tag team-work going on here? They must be starting to feel real heat.

  22. gerard

    Not a fair share Bill Parker;
    Try and look up the stats on how many of our young over-dose on the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. No one objects to reasonable alcohol usage or prescription drugs but the might of advertising is no match for the mums and dads desperate to keep their sprouts from dying of alcohol, prescrition drugs and junk food.
    It’s not a fair choice. It is terminal capitalism based on the falsehood of ‘free-choice’..

  23. Philip Darbyshire

    Brilliant piece Bernard. I’m sure readers can send you a long list of other ‘Sacred Cows’ that need a bit of butchering. The ‘Pamphlet Princesses’ and their ‘Don’t Industry’ have been allowed to swan all over that moral high ground for far too long.

  24. edumf

    All things in moderation Bernard.

    The issue is not the opposition to alcohol consumption per se, but rather the gross abuse of alcohol that is so culturally systemic and socially destructive in sections of Australian culture.
    Take a trip to the public hospital emergency wards on a Saturday night in any of Australia’s major cities fully to appreciate the poignancy the ‘ vomiting class’ mostly young people exercising their freedom to clog up the hospitals and, to verbally and physically abuse medical staff. Oh, its a great laugh ! And so moving because people are expressing their god- given freedom to binge drink.
    Or Bernard, why not enjoy the spirited revelry of King St Melbourne on a Saturday evening, where alcoholic abandon generates all sorts of lovely outcomes. Like someone I know, who pissed at the time, got into a altercation with another ‘liberated’ aggressive drinker, was king hit and has now lost his sight for life. Too bad ! They were all just having fun !.
    Exploring the economic argument, who pays for that. Well the Australian community does, not the bloke who swung his hay-maker. I could go one, but I think the point is made.

    No man or woman is an island in Australian society, and rights and freedoms need to be balanced with responsibilities (accepted) . While I can appreciate that some folk dislike what they see as ‘ the nanny state’ , my take is a little different. Personally I get throughly sick of the ‘in your face’ slick advertising for alcohol consumption everywhere. This is perhaps another form of the ‘ nanny state’, which suggests we should take every opportunity to self medicate ( self soothe ) with copious alcohol, whatever the occasion.

  25. Roberto Tedesco

    Once you start quoting Chris Berg and slagging off “elites” (whatever they are meant to mean here)…well, I kind of tune out.

  26. NicheUser

    Bit rich this article coming from Crikey.
    The main sponsor of the article, when viewed on my mobile, is Coopers beer – “The best pubs have original features (with a picture of a full beer glass and a Cooper tap).”
    Lucky you can buy beer through Group Buying sites.
    What a tosser attacking people trying to prevent childhood abuses by corporate interests.
    Sorry Crikey #epicfail in that attempt to stir the pot.
    Stop with the alcohol advertorial and get back to the good stuff.
    Your sponsors and the alcohol industry do alright out of the general population, they do not need to target kids. Seriously.

  27. Duggy the DC3

    And the cost of Health care continues to rise at 10 – 15% each year.

  28. AR

    Are you channelling Richard Farmer?

  29. julie anderson

    I agree to this alcohol consumption should be banned in the premises of school.There lots of disadvantages by the consumption of these!!

  30. Hamis Hill

    Is there any point in asking why young people want to get “wasted” on such a regular basis?
    And why they want to get wasted in company?
    It seems to be quite nihilist compared to other generations.
    Perhaps the cause is the Howard Golden Era mortgage debt slavery which has, essentially, stolen their future.
    There seems to be a pathology beyond the “normal” getting merry, as they used to say in the olden days.
    Is there any other generation which, after attending diligently to their high school education, face a life-time of debt and housing insecurity?
    Perfect prospects for raising a happy family indeed!
    Getting wasted seems to be a group ritual of pain killing for these “lost” generations; victims of the nation’s “best economic managers”, the Liberals.
    The overwhelming fact that the previous generations plainly couldn’t give a sh!t just makes the drive to binge drinking even stronger.
    Oh yes,I forgot, it’s the Nanny State in action.

  31. Jim Moore

    Ditto Robert Tedesco (Comment No. 24). And don’t forget the implied “Nanny State” in the article either.

    And to think I’ve only just subscribed this week. I could’ve saved my money and kept reading the Drum’s IPA pieces for free.

    Libertarians shit me: for their selfishness and lack of empathy for those who haven’t been as lucky as them,, but what really annoys me the most is their Dunning-Kruger stupidity. First Dog better be pretty funny for the next twelve months.

  32. Liamj

    @ Hamis Hill – yes, ‘why?’ (abuse drugs) is the question nobody except a few extreme ‘wowsers’ (and innumerable unpublished drunks) ask.

    BAU would fall over tomorrow without our individual daily drugofchoice doses, varying by class, means and taste, but not intent – escape from what is.

    This is how we cope with bad parenting and worse adult power relations and the nihilism of economic rationalism and its ecocidal consequences. Sobriety in this context is maladaptive, subversive even.

  33. Andy Sorlosa

    @Jim Moore

    The Dunning – Kruger effect No2 – “fail to recognize genuine skill in others”…Bw-h-h-h-.

  34. Rohan

    Whenever you attract the petulant, high-sounding “I don’t know why I bother to read “X”/”I’m cancelling my subscription” type of comments, you can be sure hordes of ideologues feel betrayed to find out you’re not one of them.

    Excellent article Bernard.

  35. Andy Sorlosa

    I see many comments here that reflect the phenomenon of falling for the Nanny State 2 card trick..ie..using a noble cause to further penetrate every nook & cranny of our mundane existence.

    May I remind a few of yuz that the “slip slop slap” health campaigne in WA has been torpedoed by doctors who now say they are seeing too many cases of Vitamin D deficiency in children. .Huh!..What do the social engineers care? Not their kids, somebody elses.

  36. Hamis Hill

    @Liamj, a school curriculum which conditioned the up-coming generations to subversive sobriety would be considered too political?
    Better for these youngsters to find out the debilitating reality of modern slavery from direct experience, the school of hard knocks etc, coming-of-age wasting rituals.
    The conservatives have to sell their soul for total control of the curriculum and society?
    Subversive sobriety? Very scary!
    A New Scientist article on beer, several years ago, outlined the role of mass production of cheap beer on keeping the “workers” content; unfortunately when the unprecedented 40,000 litre batches started to go unprofitably bad the whole process was arrested by a killing dose of cyanide.
    And the addictive (Bitter,it’s a clue) of hops, usually absent from home-brewed Ales, guaranteed the “customers” to keep coming back.
    All very wowserish to reveal these shennanigans of the political control process; couldn’t possibly put any of this in a school curriculum.
    It would give the game away.

  37. gerard

    Unless we learn the art of drinking alcohol as in most European countries and stop binging and boozing, I can’t wait for the day alcohol will sold in plain packaging and behind closed doors.
    The same for over the counter medicine that in many European countries you can only obtain through a doctor’s prescription.
    Terminal capitalism it is callled. As long as it makes a buck!
    Bernard Keane, I expected something a bit more insightful.

  38. Elbow Patches

    Sorry but I totally don’t get the boozin on at the primary school fete thing, it’s like they’re not happy until everywhere feels/smells like an old RSL club. Also tedious are drink pushers who are apparently so adolescent they can’t handle it when everybody else isn’t doing it. If you say “sorry but ive got to get up early and it gives me allergies anyway” all they hear is no means yes. Yeah, nanny style lecturing and restricting is a bore, but there are plenty of booze bores as well. Feel sorry for my ex alcoholic friend who doesn’t like having to fend off these types who can’t understand why anyone might turn down a chance to drink. Socializing with people from non alcohol focused societies is refreshing. Anglo booze obsessed cultures have some growing up to do.

  39. Andy Sorlosa

    @ Rohan – Totally agree.

    I have a post in moderation that explains something similar.

  40. Andy Sorlosa

    I see many comments here that reflect the ph enomenon of falling for the Nanny State 2 card trick..ie..using a noble cause to further penetrate every nook & cranny of our mun dane ex istence.

    May I remind a few of yuz that the “sl-p sl-p sl-p” health champaigne in W A has been torpedoed by doctors who now say they are seeing too many cases of Vitamin D deficiency in children. .Huh!..What do the social eng ineers care? Not their kids, somebody elses.

  41. Andy Sorlosa

    Come on moderator!..what is this? pre-iron curtain E Germ any?

  42. Sue Hardy

    @Andy Sorlosa -10.48am

    And not to mention the possible “cancerous” effects of some sun skin lotions. It’s a double whammy. Cut back their natural source of vitamin D and pump them full of toxins. Great!..innit.

  43. Dogs breakfast

    Has anyone done a calculation of the cost (bogus, yes) of actually banning alcohol, and what that would be to the vast majority of people who enjoy a tipple and just keeps them from going over the edge?

    The cost in terms of ‘loss of quality of life’ would be substantially higher than the quoted $8b.

    But what of it all. As much as BK is right, the likelihood of the health industry stopping their onslaught is about zero.

    It’s the naggging quality to it all that makes it all so ineffective. I don’t see young kids today doing anything worse than I did 30 years ago.

    If anything should and or could be banned it would be tobacco, said the man who is now in day 3 of giving up. 🙂

  44. Andy Sorlosa


    If you are an occasional smoker at choice moments and not a habitual chronic addicted smoker, then why give it up?…everything in moderation is still waycool over Nanny State prohibition.

    I do agree with Hamis Hill though concerning the issues facing young people. Among those many issues, parental pressure and expectations would have to rank pretty high up the ladder..I guess.

  45. dani fried

    Perhaps if you’d seen friends and family f—ked over by addictions, and f—king over their partners, jobs, children in the process, you’d be more of a wowser too?

  46. Townsend Ruth

    A well measured contribution from Konrad Reardon but @NicheUser captures my sentiments. WTF Keane? Disappointed.

  47. Andy Sorlosa

    Is that Konrad Reardon?..or “Comrade” Reardon??

    Pay no attention to those agenda driven idealogues, Bernard. Once again, a gutzy, informative and unbiased fact-filled article.

Leave a comment


https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/11/19/dear-preventative-health-wowsers-stop-taking-the-piss/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

Show popup

Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.