Pubs’ attack on charity is a dry old argument
I enjoy a drink as much as the next person. Unless that next person happens to be Fiona O’Loughlin. Or Andrew Symonds.
But the Australian Hotels Association’s opposition to a cancer fundraiser is just plain wrong.
Three blokes who’ve lost loved ones to cancer have started Dry July to raise money for Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital.
A worthy cause, you would think.
Not so, according to the AHA.
On the weekend (that time when we indulge in the fine Aussie tradition of getting shi*tfaced and kicked out of pubs), the lobby group’s CEO was foaming at the mouth.
“I am concerned that some people out there are suggesting that alcohol per se is a dangerous substance,” Bill Healy said as he crushed a can of VB and threw it to the ground in disgust.
“Why don’t we have ‘No Mango May’? There are a lot of substances that, if you consume them irresponsibly, are a problem.”
Now, I grew up in Queensland – the home of the mango – and I don’t remember anybody drinking one-too-many mango smoothies, beating up a bouncer then vomiting in the back of a taxi on the way home.
As far as I’m aware, over-consumption of mangoes does not lead to sex-which-you-later-regret, or a craving for kebabs at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Ditto cancer, liver disease, heart problems, diabetes, dementia or depression.
Despite these obvious dangers, there have been wildly conflicting studies in recent years about the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol.
Heart doctors in New Jersey are about to give red wine pills (resveratrol) to their patients to see whether they create the so-called French Paradox, whereby Gallic drinkers have a lower mortality rate from heart disease than North Americans.
The benefits of red wine have been widely reported – and exaggerated.
We seem to forget the key message: it’s only good for you if you stick to one glass a day.
In a nation forged on the rum rebellion, how many of us have the discipline to stop at just one?
The demon drink, as my grandmother used to call it, took my father to the brink of suicide.
After 20 ulcers exploded in his stomach, Dad gave up the grog and turned his life around.
With a history of alcoholism on both sides of the family, we battle every day to achieve moderation.
Hubby has one dry month every year (normally February, because it’s the shortest!)
We are far from teetotalers. We don’t preach. And we certainly don’t avoid pubs.
As Dry July co-founder Brett Macdonald says, “We are a light-hearted approach for raising money for a serious cause. We’re all big drinkers ourselves”.
The AHA has committed a huge PR blunder by attacking this good cause.
It’s reminiscent of the evil, egregious campaign by the tobacco industry to propagate the myth that everything gives you cancer.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Big Tobacco funded studies that pointed the finger at red meat, air pollution and toothpaste to divert public attention from the fact that smoking causes cancer.
(This was reinforced by noted oncologist and singer, Joe Jackson.)
The enormity of its success can be seen today, with rusted-on smokers still parroting the phrase.
The tobacco and alcohol lobby groups turn a blind eye to people dying of cancer, to make a quick buck.
To be fair, I can understand the financial imperative.
More pubs are expected to go broke this year due to falls in property values, fewer patrons and a lack of bank credit.
It’s worse in New South Wales, where pubs are about to be hit with new licence restrictions because of alcohol-related violence.
Surely the answer is to restructure your business to cope with changing times, rather than attacking a charity?
Interestingly, there has been no word from companies like Lion Nathan.
Brewers boom in times of economic hardship, as people drown their sorrows.
A couple of thousand drinkers abstaining for a month barely dent their profits.
But it makes a world of difference to those trying to improve their health.
After all, isn’t it ‘health’ that we drink to, before we all fall down?
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