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Freedom of speech includes commercial freedom of speech

So, let us welcome Professor Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians, who has averred "We need a complete ban on alcohol advertising..the ban should include sponsorship in sport". (Source).

This is, naturally, all part of the moral panic over binge drinking, which is a wholly new - and an exclusively British - phenomenon. Hogarth's 'Gin Lane' must have been the creation of an over-active imagination.

And there's more:

"The new president of the Royal College of Physicians said drastic action was needed to curb Britain's binge-drinking culture. He also criticised "irresponsible" supermarkets which use cheap drink as loss leaders. (It is called competition) and The professor called for higher taxes on alcohol. He said rates should be linked to its strength because drinks such as strong cider were too cheap and were being bought by children (Children? If they under the 18, both they and the traders are breaking the law. Or does he mean those old enough to vote etc etc who happen to male choices that the professor disapproves of?) aiming to get drunk as quickly as possible".

And avoiding hyperbole, he further comments, "Alcohol is pervasive, it has become impossible to have a celebration in this country without drinking. Alcohol has never been more available or cheaper". So the various dry religions and sects never celebrate? And as for all those toddler birthday parties that degenerate into drunken free for alls.... And let us again forget about Hogarth and later on the 1830 Beer House Act which abolished tax on beer.

And the DCMS's truly pitiful reaction: "A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: 'Sponsorship by the drinks industry is worth many millions to British sport - money which in many cases is then used to support youth and grassroots development programmes. There are currently no plans to impose greater restrictions on alcohol sponsorship of sports events.'"

The French example of a ban on TV alcohol advertising and sports sponsorship is cited, and in a classic post propter ergo post propter hoc 'argument' a fall in consumption is noted.

As and when commercial free speech has been limited in the past - cigarettes etc etc - what tends to happen is that existing market share ossifies, making it that much harder for new market entrants. Tobacco yesterday, 'junk food' today and alcohol tomorrow. What's next? As I have noted before, 'Better England free than England sober'.


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Blogger Raedwald said... 6:04 pm

Cant indeed. And it's not my liver that's in danger from this - it's my spleen.

And of course we have the obligatory government yoof-oriented site at http://www.knowyourlimits.gov.uk/ , including an appeal for people to send in their worst drinking stories (presumably to give the rest of us something to laugh about).

Still, sign of the times. When I was a lad the last thing on TV at 23.25 used to be a Public Information Film advising one what to do if one caught fire ('put it out' was the answer, I recall.)

Same idiots, different perceived risk. I can't recall losing a single friend from combustion.  

Anonymous verity said... 8:52 pm

Who are all these people who tell us what "we need" with such assurance? I think Professor Ian Gilmore needs a period of refraining from running off at the mouth.  

Anonymous nick drew said... 9:13 pm

Quite like your freudian "male choices that the professor disapproves of"  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 10:31 pm

Luckily MP's themselves are not reknowed for averting for a decent drinka nd neither are fleet street; thus an unhlloy alliance may yet keep us 9relativvely)free.  

Anonymous verity said... 12:38 am

City Unslicker, I assume from your typing skills that you have been engaged in an activity Professor Gilmour doesn't approve of?

In addition, Professor Gilmore is surplus to requirement as long as we have Rachel North on 18 Doughty Street explaining to us what "we" must do.

Some people may fall in love with bossy, prescriptive men and women but I cannot imagine why. Scary.  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 11:24 am

You may say that Verity. I could not possibly comment.  

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