Monday, March 19, 2012

A radical solution to excess alcohol consumption

Australia has a drinking problem.   There are 3000 deaths in Australia each year from alcohol - cirrhosis, car accidents, alcohol related violence, alcohol poisoning.   It costs us a lot:

It has been estimated that alcohol cost the Australian community about $15.3 billion in 2004–05, when factors such as crime and violence, treatment costs, loss of productivity 
and premature death were taken into account. These figures are recognised to be conservative, 
as the cost of alcohol related absenteeism alone has recently been estimated at $1.2 billion 
per year, using self-report data from the 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (AIHW 2002). 

My husband was watching an NRL game on TV on Friday night.  I noticed on the field two ads, both for Bundaberg Rum.  The one that stood out to me said: Get footy ready with Bundy and BWS.  

The message that this ad presents is that drinking alcohol is an important part of watching football.  But this is the problem.  Somehow, we have got this idea in our heads that you can’t have fun, you can’t enjoy life, if there isn’t alcohol involved.  

 I don’t think we need to go as far as making alcohol obsolete or socially unacceptable, in the way we have smoking.  Tobacco smoke in any amount is hazardous to health, whereas alcohol in moderation is okay.  We need  to make excess drinking socially unacceptable.  

Here’s a suggestion: get rid of ads for alcohol, or at least set up tighter restrictions on where and when alcohol ads can be shown and what can be shown in them.  

Stop the advertising companies from making us believe that alcohol is an essential part of life.  

Reducing Australia’s alcohol consumption needs a drastic solution, but who is going to stand up and make it happen.   Sporting organisations, such as the NRL and the AFL, stand to lose millions of dollars in sponsorships from alcohol companies are banned.    Television networks would also lose millions of advertising dollars.  

But worst of all, our Government isn’t going to do anything real to combat Australia’s drinking problem.  Not only do they bring in a lot of revenue from taxes on alcohol sales - a deterrent which obviously isn’t working - they fear losing votes by making an unpopular decision.  And those who stand to lose the most have the money to stop the changes we need to happen.  Money talks.  Those with money can talk to the voters and convince them this is a bad move. 

This is the sad thing.  Money is more important than lives. 

Stand up, Australia.  Let’s show the world that we can have fun without excessive drinking.  


  1. in france and some othe european countries, you can't advertise alcohol on jerseys, or at the stadiums i think. There's quite a few football games i've seen where teams have had to play in plain jerseys.

  2. Somewhat strangely, my half-baked thoughts on the idea at the moment are to lower the legal drinking age.

    In the US and Australia, the legal drinking ages are 21 and 18, the ages where a lot of kids have left home. They don't have their parents around to teach them responsible alcohol consumption. These countries have alcohol problems. They turn 18 and suddenly they are allowed to drink and go crazy. Yet many European countries have the legal drinking age at 16 and don't have the same alcohol problems we do. My theory is that at 16, kids are still at home at this age. When they start drinking, they are still living with their parents who, in European culture, probably drink alcohol reasonably often, but drink responsibly. By the time they are old enough to be out of their parents' care, drinking is no longer a novelty that they go stupid over. Like I said, half-baked thoughts though.

  3. Oh, and in Europe, their alcohol is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper (beers for 2 euros, bacardi breezers/vodka cruisers for 3.50 euros etc) but they still don't have the alcohol problems we do, so the taxes are a stupid 'solution'.