The Spectacle Blog

Out of my (chilled) dead hands…

By on 4.21.08 | 9:20AM

No, it's not a gag, an April Fool's joke, or an Onion article. And even I, long a hardened cynic about all things nanny state, have a hard time believing it. But it appears to be true: The EU looks ready to wage war on secondhand drinking:

The campaigns to combat the effects of ‘passive smoking’ are widely credited for Europe’s growing number of smoking bans. Now alcohol is in the sights of the public health lobbyists, and they have invented the concept of ‘passive drinking’ as their killer argument.

I have seen a leaked draft report for the European Commission, which is due to be published some time in June. It makes claims about the high environmental or social toll of alcohol, the ‘harm done by someone else’s drinking’. The report is likely to inform proposals for a European Union alcohol strategy later this year.

Dr Peter Anderson, the report’s lead author, who has a background in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and plays a leading role in Tobacco Free Initiative Europe, tells me that the concept of social harm takes the alcohol debate beyond the traditional limits of individual choice and addiction. ‘You can make the argument that what an individual drinks is up to them, provided they understand what they are doing and bearing in mind that alcohol is a dependency-producing drug…. But when you talk about harm to others then that is a societal concern and justification for doing something about it. I think that is an important argument. If there was not harm to others then the argument gets a little less powerful’.

No smoking, no drinking. What's next? No peanuts or pretzels? Will London begin sprouting pubs that only serve water and organic fruit juices?

Anyway, I'm now starting to wonder if maybe global warming is just a ruse, and this -- discouraging drinking -- is what those gravy-brained EU biofuel policies driving up beer prices are really about.

In other nanny state news, EU regulators are cracking down on bagpipers. I promise I'm not making this up. I couldn't possibly.

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