In recent years, along with all other media, we at the BBC may have implied that an unstoppable tide of rising alcohol consumption posed a threat to the very fabric of British society. Headlines such as Rising alcohol addiction costs 'could cripple the NHS', Alcohol abuse 'becoming epidemic and Alcohol abuse 'epidemic' warning may have given some readers the impression that there was there was some sort of epidemic of alcohol use.
It is also possible that news stories such as 'Licensing Act to cause mayhem' '24 hour drinking - are you mad?' and 'Please Gordon, reverse this crazy law' may have given some licence-fee payers the impression that the country was going to hell in a handcart thanks to round-the-clock bingeing.
Having finally got round to checking the facts, we now recognise that heavy drinking is falling, abstinence is rising, and young people are leading the drive towards healthier drinking. Contrary to what you may have heard every day for several years, alcohol consumption has been falling since 2002, with drinking by young men falling most dramatically—from 26 units a week in 1999 to 15 units in 2009. Even changing the way consumption is measured can't disguise the fact that drinking has been on the decline for a decade.
Furthermore, what we have been laughably referring to as '24 hour drinking' has resulted in the average pub opening for an extra 24 minutes a day, hardly enough time to have a swift half. We also recognise that 'binge-drinking' is a scare-mongering and virtually meaningless phrase popularised by the tabloid media and is unworthy of the world's most respected news organisation.
We would like to distance ourselves from everything we have ever said and point out that we did not write any of these stories ourselves. They came from press releases from seemingly disinterested and trustworthy parties such as Alcohol Concern and the Alliance House Foundation. At the time, we had no idea that an organisation that used to be called the UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in all Intoxicating Liquors could have any prohibitionist leanings.
We now acknowledge that these temperance types will say and do anything to further their goals. Why, only yesterday we presented wild guesstimates from Alcohol Concern about the supposedly escalating costs of treating drinkers as a legitimate news story. We now see that the only reason for this story's existence was to encourage more funding for Don Shenker and his colleagues. The person responsible for this has been dismissed and from now on we will only be asking representatives from the Portman Group to comments on our news stories.
Henceforth, instead of illustrating all drink-related articles with this picture of a fat lager-guzzling wreck...
...we will be using this:
We sincerely apologise for any confusion caused in the past and will work hard to regain your trust. Cheers!
Slightly adapted from this.