CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide has compared new alcohol limits to Prohibition in the US in the editorial intro to the 2017 version of the guide, which is launched today.
Roger Protz, The Good Beer Guide’s editor, argues that the recommended limit of 14 units per week for both men and women are “bad science”.
The new alcohol guidance published by Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, in January, has come under wide criticism for providing the same guidelines for men and women; adopting a very low threshold of 14 units per week and stating that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
Protz, said, “This is the rocky road to Prohibition. I’m glad that in August the government rowed back on the recommendations from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers and said moderate drinking imposed no greater health risk than driving a car. But the Government still supports 14 units a week and says they are based on good science when the opposite is the case.”
In May, a survey of UK GPs carried out by CAMRA revealed that 60% disagreed about a safe level of alcohol consumption. It also found that almost two thirds (63%) of the GPs considered that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that moderate drinking can have a protective effect against various health problems including cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and certain forms of cancer.
Protz points out that evidence from the School of Public Health at Harvard University in the US, the American Stroke Association and the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, indicates that the moderate consumption of beer can protect drinkers against strokes, diabetes, heart attacks, dementia, gall stones and bone disease.
Protz also insisted the guidelines simply don’t match up to other countries. Safe drinking limits in Ireland and Denmark are 21 units, 25 units in the US and Canada, and 34 units in Spain.
He also remarked that the Chief Medical Officer’s research was “heavily influenced” by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, which is funded by the Alliance House Foundation, whose former name was the UK Temperance Alliance. The alliance grew out of the temperance movement in the United States that campaigned for prohibition in the 20th century.
Protz added, “The Good Beer Guide urges people to drink sensibly and moderately. But the restrictions urged by the medical officers are taking us on the road to Prohibition. Men used to be told to drink no more than 21 units a week. Now it’s 14 units. What will the advice be in a few years’ time: no units at all?
“All the real scientific evidence shows that moderate beer drinking can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We should listen to the experts – not the kill-joys of the Temperance movement.”
The Good Beer Guide is published today.