Saturday, January 16, 2016

Diageo Fires Back at Latest Deceptive CAMY Report

Earlier this month, new guidelines for drinking and health issued by England's Chief Medical Officer made headlines. The gist is that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The chief health officials of no other major country have gone that far, although America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a strident anti-alcohol crusade a few years ago. Other non-governmental groups such as the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) have been at it for years, marshalling reams of junk science to support their outrageous claims.

I have written before about neo-prohibitionists and their dishonest attacks on the alcohol industry. I've been particularly disturbed by the CDC because of its important role in preventing and containing epidemics. I hate to see its reputation degraded because of one official's misguided personal agenda.

Rational people can see through this junk science based on their own experiences of friends and family who have enjoyed moderate alcohol consumption for a lifetime without adverse consequences. It is estimated that fewer than 20 percent of people are predisposed to alcoholism, the other 80+ percent can enjoy alcohol without issues, yet there have always been puritans afflicted by, as Mencken wrote, "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

I considered writing something about the current spate. Happily, I don't have to because Guy L. Smith, Executive Vice President, Diageo North America, has issued the following excellent statement about the latest CAMY atrocity.

David Jernigan and his ‘research’ group, CAMY, have once again exposed the venerable Johns Hopkins University to embarrassment over CAMY’s biased and shoddy research. Using taxpayer dollars, Jernigan and his group have launched a decade long war against the alcohol industry, exclaiming through salacious headlines that alcohol marketers are intentionally targeting youth through their advertising. By funding this report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention veers sharply away from their long history of basing activities and pronouncements on solid science. Alas, in this case the CDC is perpetuating junk science.

One recent report from CAMY cited that U.S. youth watching television were exposed to alcohol advertisements daily, a 71% increase from eight years prior. The problem CAMY has, and the source of embarrassment that Johns Hopkins should feel for allowing CAMY to leverage the Johns Hopkins name, is that the scaremongering implied by this research simply doesn’t square with the facts.

Intuitively one would expect that, as underage exposure went up, so would underage use; in fact, this is precisely the point that Jernigan is attempting to make. However, government data repeatedly shows underage use is going down – steadily down – not up. In fact, just last month the Federal Government’s ‘Monitoring the Future’ survey, which measures underage drinking rates, revealed that the use of alcohol by American teenagers had reached its lowest point since the study began in 1975.

If Jernigan is correct, and underage exposure to advertising is indeed going up, then one might reasonably conclude that increased exposure is then leading to decreased use. You didn’t read that wrong, but it bears repeating. Assuming Jernigan believes underage drinking is bad, then following his own logic, CAMY should be arguing for increasing underage exposure, since underage use is going down. 

There lies the Catch 22 in which propagators of junk science often find themselves. When ultimately faced with accurate data and actual facts, their attention-grabbing press releases lead to absurd conclusions. What is truly unfortunate is that institutions that lend their credibility to the likes of CAMY find their own reputations tarnished when the real motives of these ‘researchers’ are exposed.


Rob K said...

As far as I'm concerned everything CDC does is junk. You can't be run by politicians and so obviously politicized for so long and retain any respect.

Christopher said...

Thanks for posting this, Chuck! I really think Guy hit the nail on the head. There are so many people out there with an agenda, it's just not funny. I am glad he wrote so eloquently about it!

Anonymous said...

Winston Churchill Quotes:

"I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me."
Winston Churchill

"When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast."
Winston Churchill

"The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it."
Winston Churchill

"I neither want it [brandy] nor need it, but I should think it pretty hazardous to interfere with the ineradicable habit of a lifetime."
Winston Churchill

Bessie Braddock: "Sir, you are drunk."
Churchill: "And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober."
Winston Churchill

John W said...

Here's their take when they keep it to the science:
A 2011 Center for Disease Control Mortality Study concluded moderate alcohol intake was one of four lifestyle behaviors that “exert a powerful and beneficial effect on mortality.”
Ford, ES, G Zhao, J Tsai, and C Li. 2011. Low-risk lifestyle behaviors and all-cause mortality: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality Study. Am. J. Public Health 101 (10):1922-1929. The others include “never smoked, healthy diet, adequate physical activity” as well as “moderate alcohol consumption.”

Unknown said...

Well, the CDC thinks firearm ownership is a 'disease', so what can you expect.

The strange thing for me is - Diageo won't tell us what is in their bottles, but they are saying it's OK to drink it. Pot, meet kettle. LOL

Anonymous said...

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill: a truly great and amphibious statesman, after our own hearts - and livers.