Drinkers’ Voice – Giving drinkers a voice in the alcohol debate

Tim Page, Chief Exec at CAMRA, writes his regular guest column for On-Trade Progress:

We are in the midst of something very exciting as we welcome the new kid on the block fighting back against the anti-alcohol lobby: Drinkers’ Voice.

Drinkers’ Voice was launched last month on the simple premise that the conversation about alcohol consumption and health has become a monologue dominated by those who say that drinking is ‘unsafe’ and that alcohol is ‘evil’.  The anti-alcohol lobby has monopolised the debate in recent years, with little room for the moderate drinker to have a say.

Just last year the alcohol guidelines for men and women were reduced to 14 units per week, based upon little evidence of a public health reason for it. Some on the advisory board who made recommendations to the Chief Medical Officers are also involved in the anti-alcohol movement, and the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption were swiftly swept under the rug. The average, responsible drinker never had a chance. Tax increases and measures such as restrictions on the sale of high-strength drinks are increasingly justified on ‘health’ grounds.

In an attempt to introduce a common sense approach to talking about alcohol, Drinkers Voice has been set up to start speaking for the average drinker, who doesn’t abuse alcohol but may enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine at the end of a hard day’s work. The organisation has made an immediate impact – with national newspapers, TV and radio welcoming the arrival of a body representative of ‘normal drinkers’.

Drinkers’ Voice has four simple objectives:

  1. To provoke a more balanced debate about alcohol, health and wellbeing
  2. To enable drinkers to have access to all of the evidence – not just that which illustrates the effects of excessive drinking
  3. To recognise and promote the many health and wellbeing benefits that result from moderate alcohol consumption
  4. To support targeted intervention for those who misuse alcohol. It is clear that a blanket ban approach is simply not a solution to those who are vulnerable to alcohol abuse.

The organisation will speak for all drinkers, irrespective of their choice of tipple, and challenge what is becoming seen and accepted by many as ‘normal’. It is Drinkers’ Voice’s policy that they will not accept funding from organisations that make their money from the production or sale of alcoholic drinks. The Campaign for Real Ale has thrown its full support behind this initiative, as it fights a cause that resonates with our 190,000 beer-loving members across the UK.

Drinkers’ Voice is able to challenge the anti-alcohol lobby effectively because it represents men and women across the UK who drink responsibly, and whose freedom to do so is threatened by the increasingly influential anti-alcohol lobby. It does this in a way that CAMRA would never be able to on its own.

By debunking the scaremongering myths of ‘Drunk Britain’ and challenging the motivation of the anti-alcohol lobbyists I’m sure that Drinkers’ Voice will have an important effect.

I hope that you will support Drinkers’ Voice and join those who, like us, want more openness and less deceit from those who are working actively to restrict our enjoyment of a drink.

Join Drinkers’ Voice at www.drinkersvoice.org.uk, make a donation to the start-up fund and fight for the right to choose, rather than be told, when and what to drink.