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CAMRA says new safe drinking limits are a slippery slope to prohibition

Published:  15 September, 2016

The editor of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide (GBG) 2017 says the move to restrict drinking to no more than 14 units a week for men and women is "bad science" - and is urging punters not to listen to "killjoys".

Roger Protz said he was glad that to see that the government had revised the recommendations made by the UK's Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, by stating that moderate drinking imposed no greater health risk than driving a car.

But he is still critical of the government for supporting the controversial 14 units a week recommendation.

"The government says this is based on good science when the opposite is the case," he said, adding: "This is the rocky road to prohibition."

Protz is also critical of the sources used by Davies, to draw conclusions as to safe drinking guidelines.

"It appears that the Davies 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.

"Professor Davies also took evidence from the Alcohol Health Alliance that claims alcohol consumption has increased in the UK in recent years. This claim contradicts official figures compiled by HM Revenue & Customs that show that sales in the UK have fallen by close to 20% over the past decade."

The annual guide - which is published by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) - argues that the new recommended limits are out of sync with other countries such as Ireland and Denmark where the limit is 21 units, the United States and Canada where the limit is 25 units, and Spain - 34 units.

Protz said: "Are the Spanish a nation of falling-down drunks? On the contrary: we are advised to adopt their healthy Mediterranean diet, which includes wine and beer."

Back in February, Dame Sally made headlines when she urged drinkers to think about cancer before having a glass of wine, to weigh up if it's worth it - advice Protz has criticised.

"The Good Beer Guide urges people to drink sensibly and moderately - and to do their drinking in company in the pub. 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."