I spotted this poster in the window of a high street pharmacy chain this week. This is an extremely worrying development in the rhetoric and imagery being used against alcohol - and as the wine industry, we need to be realistic about what this implies.
In January this year, I blogged about the new government guidelines on drinking alcohol, and made the point that:
Despite the fact that the government went quiet over their new guidelines after a widespread backlash, a strong anti-alcohol agenda clearly still prevails. This image, which borrows heavily from the type used for tobacco packaging, is one step towards a more hostile and scaremongering campaign against alcohol consumption.
If the wine industry doesn't get better at promoting the moderate drinking message through self-regulation, it's entirely possible that these sorts of warnings will find their way onto wine bottles. My worry is that continuing to repudiate the beliefs of the temperance lobby will be fruitless. No matter how much we protest, policymakers are determined to penalise alcohol. (As I say in my previous blog, the motivation for this standpoint is a financial one, because alcohol-related harm is believed to cost the government £21 billion every year - that's a compellingly large number.)
I'd like to think that taking more positive steps such as supporting lower alcohol wines would be more beneficial to our cause (but then again, that didn't work for cigarette manufacturers). I'm not sure what the best options are - but I do think it's a lost cause for the wine industry to be extolling the virtues of alcohol consumption, sadly.