Preventive health saves big bucks — and lives

Crikey readers weigh in on the big issues of the day.

Tobacco and alcohol control

Margaret Beavis GP writes: Re. “Dear preventative health wowsers: stop taking the piss” (Monday). Often I agree with Bernard Keane. But he shows he just doesn’t get it when he talks about the preventive health lobby as “just another sector of the economy looking to make a buck”.

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15 comments

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15 thoughts on “Preventive health saves big bucks — and lives

  1. Matt Hardin

    [Mother Church lives history for the greater good]

    and

    [Christian story that underpins our social and political freedoms]

    What a deft use of irony!

  2. sebster

    Thanks Michael Byrne. I haven’t laughed so much in a very long time!

  3. secondsoprano

    Give it a rest Michael. No-one believes that bs any more. You just come across sounding desperate and silly. Ask Cardinal Pell.

  4. CML

    @ Margaret Beavis – It never ceases to amaze me that people like you do not connect the reduction in smoking with the epidemic of mental health disease in our community. Over a long life working in the health industry, I certainly observed those who had stopped smoking slowly looking for other avenues to cope with the stressful situations they encountered every day in life. And no doubt, this behaviour was NOT confined to just my workplace. Consumption of alcohol increased certainly, but there was also the “pill popping”, both legal and illegal which began around that time, and I believe, still continues (I am now retired).
    It is my contention that while you and others in preventative health are congratulating yourselves over the reduction in smoking that has taken place, all that has really happened is that people who are stressed out of their mind, turned to other avenues (substances) to cope. Those who didn’t/don’t make it become mentally ill as a result of the pressure to “do the right thing” as far as their physical health is concerned.
    What happens next is the breakdown of marriages/families, the inability to work and the social stigma of mental illness. I have seen it all! Now you want to make a “guilt-trip” out of having a drink or two in the evening!! And then it will be something else needing to be “removed”.
    And all because it will save money and people will live longer! Well, I’ve got news for you – some of us would rather smoke, drink, enjoy a shorter life, and stay sane!! It is not up to you to decide what choices people make for themselves – especially when those choices do not harm anyone else.
    BTW, the cost of dealing with the resultant physical conditions caused by alcohol, nicotine and obesity, is probably about the same as treating mental illness!

  5. drsmithy

    So now it’s time to look at the evidence around alcohol. Alcohol that can be sold more cheaply than bottled water is a problem.

    No, the problem is that people apparently pay more for bottled water than they do for alcohol.

    Binge drinking is another. If you want to take a lot of pressure off the police force and the ambulance services, both of whom are overburdened by alcohol related events, then we need to look at alcohol.

    No, we need to look at why people are binge drinking. We need to look at why people get addicted to alcohol. We need to look at why people get violent for no apparent reason.

    Why is it not taxed by volume evenly across the board? Why do we still advertise it? The taxpayer is footing the bill for all the alcohol-related harms — not just liver disease, but car accidents, domestic violence, family breakups, unplanned pregnancies, assaults … the list goes on and on.

    Stunning as this revelation may be, people drinking alcohol are paying tax as well. Lots of it.

    Nobody is arguing prohibition — just a little common sense.

    Common sense is that we already have some of the tightest restrictions around, and highest prices of, alcohol in the developed world. Common sense is that many countries have cheaper, easier to access alcohol without our binge drinking problems.

    Common sense is that alcohol abuse is a symptom, not a cause.

  6. David Hand

    Mike,
    The problem the Catholic Church faces today is unprecedented in its history. It now exists in a post christian society ruled by secular law. People’s non attendance of church is not a fad.

    On top of this, the systematic institutional protection of criminals has given secular governments the mandate to permanently establish supremacy over canon law. It’s not impossible to contemplate the possibility of Pell doing time for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

  7. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    drsmithy, you suggest:
    “..No, we need to look at why people are binge drinking. We need to look at why people get addicted to alcohol. We need to look at why people get violent for no apparent reason.”

    And when we are done with looking, because we have pretty much found the answers to those questions, should we take action or should we embark on more research to try to find more convenient answers? Because there’s plenty of evidence that if alcohol was simply not advertised, if professional sport was not sponsored by alcohol producers, if some tiny restrictions were put on late night/early morning pub venues and if some (not all, just some) of the lessons of alcohol restrictions in various north Australian Indigenous communities were put into practice throughout the whole community, there would be a big impact on domestic violence, on traffic accidents, on hospital admissions and on antisocial behaviour – with very little impact on people’s ‘right’ to access and consume alcohol.

  8. Gavin Moodie

    ‘. . . the Christian story that underpins our social and political freedoms . . .’ such as freedom of speech (the suppression of ‘heresy’), freedom of religion (the Inquisition), liberty (invasion and occupation of other peoples’ countries in the Crusades) and tolerance (Northern Ireland).

  9. drsmithy

    Because there’s plenty of evidence that if alcohol was simply not advertised, if professional sport was not sponsored by alcohol producers, if some tiny restrictions were put on late night/early morning pub venues […]

    So how does this “evidence” explain all those countries that have easier, cheaper and more common access to alcohol without the problems of violence and binge drinking ? Because there’s no shortage of them, as anyone who has spent time in Europe can attest.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    drsmithy, try comparing apples with apples. Australia has a completely different history and culture of alcohol management. Europe’s ‘sophisticated’ culture never, ever included six o’clock closing. I don’t know of another culture like Australia in the 1960s where a woman would sit in the car with the kids, outside the pub, while the old man sat at the bar. Where women could not enter a public bar. Where blacks were barred from licensed venues.
    We can’t have what they’re having. We are working our way towards something else because it is not possible to build a ‘European’ model over the top of a messy and ill-conceived Australian foundation.

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