Is alcohol abuse a new “scandal”?

Prime Minister David Cameron said he is determined to do more to tackle alcohol abuse, which he has called “the scandal of our society”. Addressing the crowd at an hospital in north-east England today, Mr Cameron also said that recent figures show that binge drinking costs Britain 22 billion pounds a year when taking into account the whole range of issues related to it: road accidents, crime, lost productivity and, of course, health problems.

There is nothing new about the negative impacts of the alcohol industry on our society, health and culture.

Drink abuse: a not-so-new problem for youth (painting by W.P. Frith)

Spectacle’s film Exodus Extended Mix explores, among other issues, the hypocrisy of a profit driven drinks industry being a licensed dealer of a legalized, but extremely harmful drug – alcohol and the prohibition of the far less harmful cannabis which criminalizes vast swathes of young people and forces the consumer to the hands of gangs who have interest in promoting the harder, more anti-community drugs like heroine, cocaine and its derivatives.

Exodus from Babylon exposes the role of a beleaguered alcohol industry that was losing the youth market to free parties. The film documents how the alcohol industry set up a powerful lobby group to push for more relaxed laws and licences, how it had a role in the shutting down, commercialization and take over of rave culture and music festivals and how it sought to win back and target the youth market by presenting beer as a cool psychoactive drug.

BOGOF In the spirit of the buy one get one free ethos of the alcohol pushers you can buy both these DVDs for the price of one.

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Exodus from Babylon’s organised piss up on every high street

Alcohol Inquiry

The recently published Alcohol Inquiry by The House of Commons Health Committee criticises the power and political influence of the alcohol industry and its lobbyists and their role in creating and profiting from a binge drinking (youth) culture.

Our documentary Exodus from Babylon (1997) details how the alcohol industry feeling under threat from the teetotal rave culture that was emptying pubs used its power and influence at national and local level to demonise and criminalise the free rave movement, to expand into club ownership, and to promote drink as a cheap legal psychoactive high.

All of the few, but very highly publicised, rave related deaths occurred not in the free “illegal” raves but in the commercially run venues where a bottle of water cost up to £3.00 and, to ensure market monopoly, the cold water taps in the toilets were switched off.

Once the free rave movement had been destroyed the alcohol industry successfully lobbied for more lax premises licences, longer drinking hours and produced cheaper and more youth targeted alcohol such as alcopops. Soon banks and cinemas on UK high streets were converted into bars and clubs and the excessive drinking culture of the predominantly young clientele became a major public order and health problem.

The media is happy to blame the victims, the young, but this binge culture is not cultural or “natural” it is about profit. Sales ‘would fall by 40%’ if we all drank responsibly. The drinks industry thrives and survives on binge drinking, it spent £800million on marketing alcohol while the  Government spent £17.6million on alcohol awareness in 2009/10.

The drinks industry exerts power via its lobbyist such as the Westminster Beer Club the Portman Group:
“The drinks industry can depend on harmful drinkers because it has more power over Government policies than health experts”  the MPs added.

The drinks industry, meanwhile, hit back. Simon Litherland of Diageo GB, which produces Guinness, Bell’s whisky and Smirnoff vodka, said he was ‘extremely disappointed by the committee’s divisive approach’.

For information on Exodus from Babylon (1997) and how to purchase the film visit Spectacle’s Catalogue

For other Exodus material

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