Saturday, 12 March 2011
Drinks industry bites back
Says the Scotsman: Drinks giant Diageo has cut its ties with Scotland's most prominent alcohol awareness charity over controversial moves by the campaigning group to link the impact of alcohol to that of smoking.
The quarrel started here, when it emerged that alcohol trade groups were to be excluded from the Scottish Tobacco and Alcohol Policy Summit, to be held in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Being linked with tobacco upsets these drink magnates. This is because they have failed to recognise that the business of 'public health' is not an argument about health but about political control. Even if it were true that there are absolutely no health benefits to smoking under any circumstances, this is irrelevant. The issue is that a publicly funded lobbying group, ASH Scotland, can present a case for leaving others in the community out of the policy discussion. Diageo has been content with this as long as they were invited to participate, but a new boy has moved on to the block in the shape of ASH Scotland. Diageo is outraged at being excluded from the activities of an organisation that it has recently supported generously, but is not quite ready to realise that degrees of damage to health really isn't the issue.
The issue is: Everyone in the community should demand full participation in any publicly funded policy summit, because in the end we all contribute to the cost of these events, and the people that run them are our servants and not our masters or managers.