Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lies, damn lies and advertising. Part 3: Staying informed

In previous blogs I examined the Alcohol industry’s campaign to shift the blame for the damage done by alcohol on to the victims of alcohol while simultaneously grooming children and young students in order to make them maximum alcohol consumers.  The Alcohol Industry has proven adapt in other ways. Faced with the evidence of its damage to individuals and cost to health services the Alcohol industry has proven successful in limiting legal controls by developing techniques to make it look a responsible even beneficial part of society. These include sponsorship of suicide prevention and breast cancer awareness campaigns.

However, It is well to remember the stark facts about alcohol and mental and physical health. According to Alcohol Action Ireland, half of those who suffered death by suicide had abused alcohol in the previous 12 months and 36 percent had consumed alcohol at the time of death. Drinking one standard alcoholic drink a day is associated with a 9% increase in the risk of women developing breast cancer, while drinking 3-6 standard drinks a day increases the risk by 41%  In fact one in 10 cancers in men and one in 33 in women are caused by drinking.

The damage done by the Alcohol Industry represents a major and growing public health crisis, yet there is a reluctance on the part of politicians to provide solutions to the problem. In Ireland the government is working on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015. While there are elements in the proposed legislation that are of benefit to public health, the lobbying power of the booze bosses has ensured that there is little to challenge the Alcohol Industry’s ceaseless campaign to turn children and young students into heavy alcohol users.

Alcohol sponsorship of sport, a vital part of the Alcohol Industry’s grooming process, will remain. Far more troubling is that the government is set to give legal status to the voluntary codes on marketing and advertising created by the Alcohol Industry itself. As it stands the proposed bill stills retains a commitment to minimum unit pricing, an essential element in combatting alcohol abuse. However, now that the government has abandoned a commitment to breaking the link between alcohol and sport and abdicated responsibility for protecting children from sophisticated Alcohol marketing, it remains to be seen whether the final bill will have any positive health elements left in it.

This does not mean that the public is powerless. Being informed is a powerful first step. A good place to start is by reading ‘They’ll drink bucket loads of the stuff’ a UK analysis of alcohol marketing. Alcohol Action Ireland’s has useful information on sport sponsorship and the targeting of children. A good critique of the targeting of women can be read in Think Before you Pink while one aspect of alcohol and violence and women can be read about at Rape and Alcohol

At an individual level, you can make a difference. One of the most common forms of bullying in NUI G is the use of unwanted sexual contact – either verbal and / or physical – by drunken men against women (Half of all female students in NUI G have experienced this form of bullying). Don’t be a bystander to bullying  explains what you can do to prevent this abuse.

Other related articles you might want to check out include:

Websites to check out:   

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For more on how to look good, feel good and be in charge of your life as a student at NUI Galway check out Student's Services Health Promotion  Students at NUI Galway can also sign up for the free online health and wellness magazine Student Health 101
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For more about Rab’s work as a blogger, author, tutor and performer see rabfultonstories

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