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Neo-Prohibitionists Gather Strength

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April 17, 2024  — You’d think Prohibitionists might have learned their lesson with the “Noble  Experiment” of the 18th Amendment also known as the Volstead Act in 1919, but no, they haven’t and they are now harnessing the World Health Organization (WHO) to restrict production and consumption of alcohol globally.

The connection between Prohibitionist organizations and the WHO is documented by Felicity Carter in an article in Wine Business, an industry publication.  A year ago, the WHO grabbed headlines with a statement by Dr Carina Ferreira-Borges the Regional Advisor for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs in the WHO Regional Office for Europe.  She said: “We cannot talk about a so-called safe level of alcohol use. It doesn’t matter how much you drink — the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage.” 

The WHO certainly upped the ante by dismissing the health benefits of light to moderate drinking and emphasizing the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer even though there is no new data to support this position. 

One of the largest and oldest international anti-alcohol organizations is Movendi headquartered in Stockholm.  Its history is fascinating.  Founded in 1851 in upstate New York it was called the Independent Order of Good Templars (I.O.G.T.) It spread globally and had its heyday in the USA during Prohibition (1920-1933).  The highly unpopular Prohibition and its eventual repeal led to membership loss but the group continued its mission to promote temperance in public health, finally morphing into Movendi in 2020.

WHO logo on the exterior of entry door at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 19 July 2023.

Without question there are serious consequences that come with over indulgence in alcohol and other drugs but legislating temperance has been tried in this country and it didn’t end well.  The WHO and assorted NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) that work with them, blatantly ignore the research that shows the positive health results of moderate alcohol consumption.  Their agenda is driven by medical and scientific misinformation that is being used to influence public health decisions.  The author, Felicity Carter, gives examples of radical changes in dietary recommendations in Canada in 2023 and new recommendations in Japan.  The USA is currently revising dietary guidelines that will include advice on alcohol consumption.

The opposition is well funded.  As an example, to quote directly from Ms. Carter’s article:  “In 2022, GiveWell, a non-profit, awarded a $15 million grant to New York agency Vital Strategies and its partners, including the WHO, Movendi International, and other anti-alcohol NGOs.”  The initiative of this group is lobbying for increased taxes on alcohol and limiting availability and marketing.  By mid-2023 Gallup found that 39% of Americans believed that moderate drinking is bad for their health.

The Neo-Prohibitionists ignore the history, culture, artisan and religious significance of wine, which we know has been a part of human society for at least 8,000 years.  All alcohol is lumped together and it is all bad. 

On a positive note, the National Research Council of Italy conducted a study in 2022 and found that drinking good wine “makes you happier”. Amen!  The article appeared in British trade magazine The Drinks Business

Felicity Carter’s article is well worth reading if you are interested in protecting your right to a glass of wine or anything else alcoholic without increased taxation, less availability and more harassment.   There’s also an interesting article she wrote in 2023 about the European wine industry’s response to growing attacks by the WHO and Neo-Prohibitionists.