US Surgeon General urged not to penalise responsible drinkers

Key US drinks trade associations have united to express their concern about an upcoming report on alcohol misuse that targets responsible consumers rather than problem drinkers.

usa wineFigures such as Robert Koch, who is president of California’s Wine Institute, and Kraig Naasz, who heads up the Distilled Spirits Council, have signed a letter this week to the US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Murthy urging him to “reject calls for the inclusion of unproven, population-based policy recommendations aimed at consumers in general rather than abusive drinkers.”

The letter – which can be seen below ­– asks the Surgeon General “to consider offering the public an opportunity to comment on the report prior to its final release.”

It also states, “Recommendations that penalize responsible consumers of alcohol have no place in a report of this nature.”

In an article from the September issue of The Weekly Standard, Kevin Kosar observes that “neo-prohibitionist anxiety has begun to spread” from the UK to the US, helped by “alarmist” reporting by US newspapers such as The Washington Post.

He observes the march of the “no alcohol is safe” argument, but points out that this “ignores the fact that just about everything – even activities with obvious and abundant benefits – carries a risk or cost.”

Indeed, he writes, “Responsible drinkers are not drags on society. On the contrary, drinkers tend to earn more than teetotalers and are twice as likely to exercise.”

The letter from the US trade associations to the Surgeon General can be seen below:

Dear Vice Admiral Murthy,

As the national trade associations representing producers and importers of beer, wine and distilled spirits products sold in the United States, we are writing regarding your upcoming report on the health effects of drugs, both illicit or otherwise, as well as alcohol misuse. While the overwhelming majority of Americans consume alcohol lawfully and responsibly, we welcome your efforts to destigmatize treatment and recovery for those for whom alcohol consumption is a concern.

We appreciate your care in ensuring that you base any conclusions and recommendations on widely-accepted evidence endorsed by the scientific community with expertise in prevention and treatment. You have great resources in NIAAA and SAMHSA, which lead this country’s research efforts on evidence-based ways to prevent and treat alcohol abuse. We hope you will look to those agencies for meaningful guidance and reject calls for the inclusion of unproven population-based policy recommendations aimed at consumers in general rather than abusive
drinkers. Recommendations that penalize responsible consumers of alcohol have no place in a report of this nature.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to convey our concerns in greater detail and discuss the state of the science in this regard. We also urge you to consider offering the public an opportunity to comment on the report prior to its final

release. This will help ensure that the report provides targeted guidance to the American people that will be both helpful in terms of encouraging treatment and recovery and well-respected in terms of its scientific underpinnings.

Sincerely yours,

signatures

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