Draconian alcohol limits unachievable

By Andrew Griffiths MP

- Last updated on GMT

Draconian alcohol limits unachievable

Related tags: Drink, Alcoholic beverage, Beer

I was surprised to learn that my Auntie Irene was a problem drinker. When she died, well into her 80s, I am sure all the ladies who knew her from the local WI would be shocked.

Doubly so when they discover that they themselves are also at risk due to their unsafe drinking habits.

Now Auntie Irene was not a lady you would find propping up the bar at the Black Horse. Indeed, her pattern of imbibing for the last 50 or so years of her life was to enjoy (and I say it in a whisper so as not to cause shock at the Department for Health) two — yes TWO — bottles of Mackeson Milk Stout before bed. At a weekend, she was even know to have a miniature bottle of Bells at the local working men’s club.

Yet according to Prof Dame Sally Davies, Auntie I was hurtling towards an early death. Not just because of the vast quantities she would neck during Coronation Street, but that she would do it while laughing in the face of the advice to have at least two days a week off the drink. No doubt such reckless behaviour was the contributing factor to her untimely death in her sleep at the age of 88.

There is no safe drinking according to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO); not one drop can be consumed without it doing damage.

So consider this. Last year, Robin Wahlgren, a student in Australia died after he and a friend rode a shopping trolley down a steep road reaching speeds of 50 mph before hitting an oncoming car. Is the CMO intending to issue dire warning over the trolleys at Aldi?

I do not intend to dismiss the health issues surrounding alcohol. Indeed, I am patron to a charity providing support for people in recovery from addiction.

Yet the latest advice is so flawed, it is derisive. My size 10 wife can, we are told, drink as much safely as my mate ‘Big Andy’, who is 6ft 6in and weighs 22 stone. I can safely drink just seven pints a week, yet my good friend Mike, who lives in the US (hardly a country that takes safety lightly) can neck 21 pints of Budweiser a week and be within safe limits.

My frustration is that not only does this guidance in one stroke make thousands of people dangerous drinkers, it could, I believe, have the opposite of the effect it was intended to have.

Alcohol consumption is falling; people are more health conscious than ever before. Yet by issuing guidance that is so Draconian, it will be ignored by many that would listen to sensible and achievable advice.

The public deserves honest and accurate health advice, not scaremongering and disapproval. We have to tackle such unsound and unsubstantiated advice. It’s our duty.

Andrew Griffiths is MP for Burton & Uttoxeter and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group

Related topics: Beer

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