Hat tip to Rose, for this continuation of yesterdays’s thread.

Explicit cigarette-style warnings of the link between drinking and health conditions such as bowel and breast cancer should appear on the labels of alcoholic drinks, a charity has suggested.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said fewer than one in six people (16 per cent) were aware of the Government’s low-risk alcohol guidelines, only one in 10 knew of the link between alcohol and cancer, and the majority (80 per cent) were unable to correctly estimate the calories in a glass of wine.

I don’t want to know what the Government’s low-risk alcohol guidelines might be. Nor do I give a damn about any link between alcohol and cancer. And last, but not least, I couldn’t give a toss how many calories there are in a glass of wine.

And in the unlikely event that I ever want to, I’ll be able to find out quickly enough.

For me to “know”, or “be aware”, and “correctly estimate”, I’m going to have to be thinking about this sort of stuff quite a lot. And I’ve got better things to think about. I don’t want to be drawn into the obsessive healthist mindset in which everything is a health threat to obsess over.

I don’t think the way these people do. And I don’t want to think the way they do. The way they think revolts me.

I’m actually quite interested in calories at the moment. Calories are a measure of energy content. But I don’t usually use obsolete calorie units when thinking about energy: I use SI unit Joules. And I’ve been calculating heat flow rates through radioactive snowballs. Because that’s what I’m interested in right now.

The RSPH, warning of an ‘alcohol health awareness vacuum’, has published a report which recommends a best practice labelling scheme to raise public understanding of the effects of drinking on health.

It wants to see a drink-drive warning on the front label, along with the mandatory inclusion of the Government’s low-risk drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units a week.

The RSPH also suggested that traffic light colour coding could help drinkers make use of unit information in the context of the guidelines.

They’re going to have a hard job raising any “public understanding” in me. And good luck trying to get me to “make use of unit information”: I’m completely indifferent to it.

The charity said its research indicated that a calorie content per container or per serving on the front label could result in an almost 10 per cent swing in consumer purchasing decisions, from the highest-alcohol drinks to the lowest within all main drink categories – for example beers, wines and spirits – and across all socio-economic groups.

It said the effect would be particularly pronounced among young drinkers, aged from 18 to 24, who would switch purchases from high to low-alcohol drinks by as much as 20 per cent.

Not much chance me ever stopping drinking neat whisky as a nightcap last thing at night.

The charity said a deadline set by the EU Commission for manufacturers to bring forward proposals for the self-regulated provision of calorie labelling is set to expire in March.

Let the deadline expire. The sooner it expires the better. And when it’s finally expired, bury it six feet under, with a concrete slab on top, and “Deadline. Expired March 2018. RIP” chiselled on it.

It added that depending on the eventual shape of the UK’s proposed exit from the EU, Britain may find itself left behind continental labelling advances – unless it manages to use Brexit as an opportunity to implement a best practice scheme faster and more efficiently.

The whole point of leaving the EU, as far as I am concerned, is to escape from the top-down regulation that comes with it. So I dearly want the UK to be “left behind” all those continental “advances”.

RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: ‘Having a drink with friends or family is something many of us enjoy. ‘However, the potential health consequences of alcohol consumption are more serious than many people realise.

If and when people choose to drink, they have the right to do so with full knowledge of both what their drink contains and the effects it could have.

‘Consumer health information and warnings are now mandatory and readily available on most products from tobacco to food and soft drinks, but alcohol continues to lag behind.

‘As Britain exits the EU, we ask that any additional regulatory freedom be used to strengthen that contribution – not to diminish it.’

Oh God, can’t people sit down and enjoy a few cheeseburgers and  beers (and cigarettes) without obsessing about “the potential health consequences”? It occurred to me to adjust the second paragraph above to read:

“If and when people choose to smoke cigarettes, they have the right to do so with full knowledge of both what their cigarette contains and the effects it could have.”

So that’s why tobacco comes with all these health warnings: it’s because I have a right to “full knowledge”.

Soon everything will be plastered with health warnings. Because people have a right to know. I can see beaches plastered with health warnings about drowning, sharks, jellyfish, portuguese men of war, oil slicks, tsunamis.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: ‘It is clear from this research that the public want labels to include the drinking guidelines, and we know from our own research that 81 per cent of the public want to see the guidelines on labels.

‘Alcohol is linked with over 200 disease and injury conditions, including heart disease, liver disease and at least seven types of cancer. We all have a right to know the drinking guidelines, along with the risks associated with alcohol, so that we are empowered to make informed choices about our drinking.’

Well, I think that Professor Sir Ian Gilmore has right to know that I for one think that he’s completely off his rocker.  And 87% of most ordinary people probably feel the same way.

What they’re trying to do, I suppose, is to infect everyone with their healthist obsession. They want to get people worrying about tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt, meat, and so on. And then they want them to bring this obsession to bear upon everything else as well – e.g. global warming. The idea is to get people to see threats and risks in all directions everywhere.

The health warnings are intended to make people think about health. And in fact to think about nothing but health. And once you’ve got people obsessed with health, they won’t be able to think about anything else. And perhaps that’s the whole point.

So if I were to become obsessed with my health, I’d be obsessively counting the calories in everything I ate, and counting the vitamins, and perhaps every single chemical compound in them. And I’d be weighing myself, and measuring my blood pressure, and my blood sugar levels. And I’d have books on nutrition. And I’d work out at a gym. And I’d cycle everywhere.

And one thing I wouldn’t do would be to do what I actually am doing. Which is looking at the heat flows inside 25 km radius radioactive snowballs that heat up, melt the ice to water (blue), and deposit radioactive rock (black) at the core of the snowball, leaving a thin layer of dirty ice (light grey) on the outside.

Why am I interested? Because I’ve been wondering whether life might have started in the seas inside these melted snowballs, much like some people think it started in hydrothermal vents on the terrestrial sea bed.

It’s as good a thing to think about as anything. If nothing else, it’s me thinking independently for myself.  rather than being told what to think about (health) and how to think about it (worry).

And it’s also fun. And of course the obsessives hate all fun.

About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to Obsession

  1. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    Health cultists aren’t even consistent. The so called plain packs of Nanny State approved tobacco products available in Australia have no factual information such as the concentration of chemicals claimed to be harmful (tar, nicotine). They just have shouty QUIT OR DIE slogans and pictures of disease asserted to be ‘smoking related’. The controllers told me that information was removed as testing gave variable results (code for ‘refuted their preconceived bias’) but it’s quite obvious the reason is because they treat the capacity of citizens to assess facts with contempt. People might make the ‘wrong’ decision if they have too much information! Mushroom policy – kept in the dark and fed on BS.💩

  2. smokingscot says:


    Was intrigued to see there’s a club where members can smoke cannabis indoors – and it’s in the UK.


    Furthermore the police are aware of it, and the chap who set it up intends to expand the (profitable) formula!

  3. Rose says:

    we know from our own research that 81 per cent of the public want to see the guidelines on labels

    I’d like to know who these people were, if they had any affiliation to Alcohol Concern and what the question was.

    New Poll Shows Public Back Health Select Committee Amendment on Smokefree Law

    [1] The survey was conducted by BMRB International using the BMRB Access Omnibus (telephone) survey between 20-22 January 2006. It involved 831 adults aged 16+ in England.

    “How strongly would you support or oppose this amendment to make ALL enclosed workplaces smokefree?”

    Support 70%

    But as it was a poll done over the phone those 831 over 16 year olds may only have registered the first part of the question

    “A Government Bill in parliament will make enclosed workplaces smokefree, with exemptions for pubs not serving food, and private members clubs.”

  4. garyk30 says:

    “We all have a right to know the drinking guidelines,”

    Where is such a ‘right’ written down?
    Who gives or states such a ‘right’ anywhere.

    That statement, like many others, sounds good ; but, has zero validity.

    I also have the ‘right’ to ignore all such guidelines and make my own decisions based upon my desires.

  5. Jack Ketch says:

    ‘As Britain exits the EU, we ask that any additional regulatory freedom be used to strengthen that contribution – not to diminish it.’

    As I have been saying from the get-go. After BrexSShite, Smokers, drinkers and people who like to eat food will look back wistfully to the days of top down EU lever pulling.

    • Philip Neal says:

      I don’t foresee any immediate bonfire of the regulations when we leave, but the nannies will no longer be able to hide behind EU obligations. There will still be the WHO and a host of other bodies to deal with, but they have fewer powers of punishment and, unlike EU treaties, international agreements are not incorporated into British law and do not create justiciable obligations.

  6. nisakiman says:

    Given that the ‘guidelines’ are just a fantasy figure pulled out of the air with absolutely no scientific basis whatsoever, I would have thought they’d risk falling foul of the ‘misrepresentation’ laws if they were to mandate plastering those figures over all drinks. And as for 81% of the public supporting such a measure, either the Brits have changed beyond all recognition since I left 15 years ago, or they are lying through their teeth.

    The line “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest” keeps going through my head when I read stuff like this. These people have their heads so far up their own arseholes that they think the view they have from their thoraxes is what everybody else sees. But if you’re peering out of your own thorax, you necessarily suffer from tunnel vision. Everyone else can see the wider world in context, but they can only see one single spot, and they become fixated on it.

    • Rhys says:

      I don’t know about England, but in Canada we have the Lalonde Doctrine, from our Minister for Health back in 1974. Apparently science wasn’t propagandist enough with its ifs, buts, or possiblys, and it’s important to give unequivocal strong messages about health to the public. In short, it’s okay to lie and propagandise about whatever the powers that be decide is bad for you.

    • Rose says:

      When you’ve got away with it once, you think that it will be easy to get away with it again.

      Cameron got away with using Project Fear in the Scottish Independence referendum and he thought he’d get away with using it again in the UK referendum, but when you’ve seen how the trick is done once you are unlikely to fall for it a second time.

      That probably goes for our politicians too, even they must have noticed the pubs shutting down in their constituencies after ASH has assured them that their local pubs would be full of thankful nonsmokers if they voted for a total ban

      A handy list of truly guillible MPs

      MPs who voted for the smoking ban in England.

  7. Smoking Lamp says:

    This is all very Orwellian. In the healthiest realm ‘public understanding’ means compliance with dogma and parroting the same whenever confronted. It seems the ‘piubic health’ cult is operating a virtual reeducation camp.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Please for give the typo. The second sentence should read: It seems the ‘public health’ cult is operating a virtual reeducation camp.

  8. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Is the act of sucking an obsession of the Antis? Smoking we know about but straws?

    ‘The Los Angeles Times has gotten behind the movement, endorsing straws-on-request policies in an editorial that also warned that “repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth.” Celebrity astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.’


    • Joe L. says:

      I just dropped by to post a link to this ridiculous story myself. Apparently the California government has nothing better to spend their time or taxpayers’ money on than incessant, petty nannying.

    • Rose says:

      What’s wrong with paper straws?

      They worked perfectly well when we were little and they are still around today. Needlessly demonising people for using the humble straw is beyond pathetic when a solution to the problem already exists. They come in pretty colours too.

    • Frank Davis says:


      Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one.

      Under Calderon’s law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

      “We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon explained in a press release.

      • nisakiman says:

        15 Times Major Media Outlets Used a Statistic about Plastic Straws Based on Research by a 9-Year-Old

        It’s sad that so many outlets are treating the rigorous survey work of an elementary school student as the statistic about plastic straw use. But it’s not very surprising. Attempts to ban plastic straws—or indeed any plastic product—have as much to do with signaling your environmentalist bona fides as they do with actually cleaning up the oceans or saving the planet


  9. jaxthefirst says:

    “Alcohol is linked with over 200 disease and injury conditions, including heart disease, liver disease and at least seven types of cancer”

    But, but, but …. don’t they know that smoking causes all forms of cancer and, in fact, every disease ever known to man??? The anti-smokers won’t like this one little bit. Not content with muscling in on their funding, now these new kids on the block are trying to take “ownership” of the anti-smokers’ own pet illnesses! Outrageous! I’ll bet the biggest fear (because, of course, it leads naturally to that gold-mine that is the “innocent bystander” so beloved of all campaign groups) is that alcohol fumes will be related in some way to the anti-smokers’ most dearly-cherished illness, lung cancer. Now then we’d see a few Puritan worms turning against each other with real venom …

    • Philip Neal says:

      It has never bothered health campaigners that their correlations explain most diseases many times over. It is all explained away as ‘cofactors’ or ‘multiplicative effects’, usually with no supporting evidence.

  10. My hubby worked for Bass Charringtons for many years, we used to get a monthly drink allowance. Over twenty years ago, in the good old days, good advice was given, like, if you need a drink in the morning you have a problem, try and pick a time in the evening when you wanted a drink. Always stuck to that advice because it was realistic, never go a day without a drink helps me sleep and IMOP better and more enjoyable than any pill.

  11. Pingback: Of Straws and Camels – Library of Libraries

  12. Regarding calories and food intake; check out Richard Wrangham’s ‘Catching Fire: How cooking made us human’. Not all calories are the same – people on raw food diets can consume thousands and thousands of calories a day, well in excess of what the daily allowance would be, yet still lose weight, and eventually become malnourished. His thesis is, with pretty good evidence to support it, that the human body has adapted to eat cooked (‘processed’) foods. In fact, it really can’t survive without them; our mandible is small and fragile compared to primates, and our digestive system is much shorter. But the trade off is, it allowed for our brain to enlarge and more blood supply to fuel it instead of digesting mangos. It also allowed us more ‘idle time’ – we didn’t have to spend the entire day foraging and eating food, which most animals do.

    Calories are a completely irrelevant measure, when it comes to energy potential in a human body. We don’t combust our food, it’s broken down by enzymes and acids and bacteria into smaller and smaller bits that eventually the body uses and absorbs.

    • Frank Davis says:

      We don’t combust our food, it’s broken down…

      It’s ultimately broken down into glucose for every cell in the body, where it is combusted (in combination with oxygen which is also transported to every cell in the body), in a cyclic process (the Krebs cycle) which releases the energy in stages.

      And calories are all the same. A calorie is a defined unit of energy. What’s happening with different diets is that our digestive system is only able to acquire part of the energy content of different foods. The value of cooking is that it begins a process of breaking down the food that is continued during digestion. Cooking makes digestion easier. And in some cases it even makes digestion possible in the first place. I’ve never eaten raw wheat, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s almost indigestible, and remains so until it has been ground into flour and baked into bread.

      In addition, hot cooked food directly adds calories inside the body as heat.

      And I’d agree that humans almost certainly increased their idleness when they started cooking. They were using the heat generated by fire to relieve themselves of some of the digestive work that they would otherwise have needed to do.

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