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
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.