Letter to the Editor
Let me thank you for once again giving me the valuable exposure of being featured in yet another of your editorials.
You return to the subject of the advertising of alcoholic beverages, claiming victory, with the very self-satisfied view that the ban on advertising does not apply to print media but to broadcast only. And you quite smugly note that the law is not being applied when it comes to alcohol advertising on radio, even while you tout the so-called “benefits” that alcohol advertising supposedly brings by funding social programmes etc.
Let me hasten to point out that the spirit and intent of the law was to prevent the advertising of alcohol through the media; given what we all know to be the harmful effects of the abuse of alcohol on the vulnerable in our society, including our young people.
You should be aware of the National Drug Council’s alarming statistics on drug and alcohol use among our young people and the trending younger age at which children have their first drink, or the even more alarming statistic that binge drink has risen so dramatically. While I will admit that liquor advertising is not the sole contributor to these statistics, if it was not increasing the sales and the profit of the alcohol seller, they would not pay your substantial rates to advertise in your paper.
It is rather egregious and ingenious for you to suggest that fast food, sugar and even tobacco (whose advertising in print media is illegal) should be treated the same as alcohol.
I suppose it would be difficult for you to do anything else but be strident in your support of the continued advertising of alcoholic products, particularly in the print media, given that the very day you published your editorial, one only had to turn a few pages to see a full page ad for such products!
In fact, any cursory content analysis of your advertising, whether in this newspaper or several of your other publications, shows the extent to which alcohol advertising is a big part of your ad revenue.
One could perhaps be forgiven for surmising that your arguments for liquor advertising are grounded more in what it means for your bottom line, rather than any concern for what the liquor distribution companies are contributing to jobs and social programmes in this country.
Ironically, I have information that some of these liquor distribution companies may be willing to pledge hundreds of thousands of dollars to back candidates to defeat me in the upcoming elections, because I have dared to bring this matter to public attention. Clearly, those who might do so are not putting up this money because their first interest is the social programs in this country!
Your assertion that if the law is changed to make liquor advertising illegal, these companies would stop their sponsorship of sporting events – direct contact with young persons, only supports my argument that their sole purpose of doing this advertising is to influence more people to start consuming alcohol and more people to increase their consumption of alcohol, thereby increasing the social consequences of abuse of alcohol.
Finally, let me reiterate that my concern about alcohol advertising is not to legislate morality, but more importantly it is about restricting the distributors of alcohol from using any media to influence the behaviour of young people to begin consumption of alcohol, in much the same way that we have restricted the advertising of tobacco and related products.
The abusive consumption of alcohol is neither a moral nor ethical issue; rather it is a medical one that causes ordinary, rational persons to shed their inhibitions, act inappropriately and become addicted to its effects. Even though alcohol may be a legal substance, there is much evidence that it has unhealthy effects and far greater social consequences beyond injury to the person consuming it and the persons profiting from its sale.
The editorial staff can choose to ignore the statistical data on harmful alcohol consumption from the National Drug Council, but their research, survey results and information is proof of what really constitutes the “string of consequences…with damaging effects to the people of the Cayman Islands.”