Arthur’s Day – Inappropriate Festivities for the City Fathers

At Dublin City Council this week a motion on “Arthur’s Day” was referred to Strategic Policy Committee on Arts and Diageo are going to be asked to make a presentation on the commercial possibilities of this for the city. I vociferously objected and tried to stop this but the Lord Mayor ruled that the chamber had agreed this. I demurred and still do.I waved the Guardian newspaper front page of that day on the Lancet publication on alcohol being the most destructive societal intoxicant. This anger display by me was entirely futile. I am opposed to advertising stunts – even the most successful – which promote alcohol consumption. Binge drinking is a very serious problem in Ireland. I am not against drinking. I fully endorse adult autonomy but I acknowledge that society exists. Therefore evidence-based public health measures in the area of drugs and alcohol are efforts that I support. I will mount stout opposition to any front festival of alcohol advertising. Arthur’s day is a brilliant example of creative advertising which I admire – but societal damage comes first.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Politicians ‘must end public link with drink’
By Evelyn Ring
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
WITH a major study suggesting that alcohol is causing more harm to society than heroin or crack cocaine, a leading addiction counsellor has called on politicians to end their public relationship with drink.

He was speaking after a study, published in the Lancet, found alcohol caused the most harm to society, followed by crack cocaine and heroin. Each drug was scored for harm, including mental and physical damage, addiction, crime and costs to the economy and community.

Alcohol scored 72 out of a maximum harm score of 100, compared with 55 for heroin and 54 for crack.

The analysis by the Scientific Committee on Drugs was led by Prof David Nutt, Britain’s former chief drugs adviser who was sacked by the Government last year for opposing its toughened stance on cannabis.

Mr Kiernan said alcohol had taken a place of prominence in Irish people’s lives that it did not deserve.

“How can the drinks’ industry be criticised for the way they market their product when the leader of our country is pictured with a drink in his hand?”

Alcohol Action Ireland pointed out there were four times as many deaths due to alcohol as there were due to all other drugs combined.

Fiona Ryan, director of the national charity for alcohol related issues, said Ireland needed to stop turning a blind eye to the all too high price we all paid for alcohol. She agreed with Prof Nutt that aggressively targeting alcohol harms was a valid and necessary public health strategy.

“The reality is one person dies every seven hours from an alcohol-related illness in Ireland. Added to that, 30% of all accident and emergency room visits are alcohol-related; 2,000 hospital beds were occupied every night as a result of an alcohol-related cause; while 7% of GP visits are also alcohol-related. Notwithstanding the immeasurable human costs, alcohol-related harms cost the health care system €1.2bn, in what are essentially avoidable costs.”

In 2007 alcohol-related problems cost Ireland an estimated €3.7bn. A European Commission study found Ireland was one of six EU countries where alcohol was over 50% more affordable than in 1996.
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, November 02, 2010