Nanny state madness, or do we need saving from ourselves?

IF you're planning on having a few quiet drinks watching the State of Origin tonight, take a moment to think about how different the experience would be if suggestions to reduce alcohol related harm from St Vincent's Health Australia were adopted by the government.

Firstly, that stubby of beer, glass of wine or schooner in your hand would be more expensive, and taxed on how much alcohol it contains.

You won't see any ads for alcohol, and the jumpers of the Blues and Maroons would be awfully bare, because XXXX or VB wouldn't be on the front.

Neither would any advertising be on the beer carton or wine bottle. Instead they would be the same drab green as a pack of ciggies, and covered in pictures of scarred livers and other alcohol related illnesses.

However, with drink driving rates in the Clarence Valley some of the worst in the state, and our court system clogged with drink drivers, perhaps the suggestion from St Vincent's Health Australia for all political parties this Federal Election to adopt policies to reduce alcohol related harm should be taken seriously.

Australia's largest non-profit provider of health and aged care services believes alcohol related illness and injury can by reduced by 20% by 2025.

The group has called for an end to all alcohol advertising on free-to-air TV sporting broadcasts, music events and sporting merchandise, an increase in the price of alcohol (including a tax based on the alcoholic content of the drink), national guidelines on alcohol outlet density and opening hours, and pictorial health warnings on all alcohol products and packaging as well as a study into the benefits of plain packaging laws for alcohol.

Despite evidence to the contrary, SVHA have denied they are "wowsers", arguing that while the majority of Australians exercise restraint when it comes to alcohol, "such is the scale and depth of the problem we need more than self-regulation and well-meaning awareness campaigns to restore balance," St Vincent's Health Australia's CEO Toby Hall said.

What do you think? Can't we be trusted to enjoy alcohol any more, or are these measures sensible to protect the community from the damage alcohol can cause?



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