Monday 21 November 2016

Public health would really like to ban Christmas (and use your taxes to campaign for this ban)

OK I exaggerate but only slightly. It does feel like it's only the lack of opportunity that's stopping public health from banning Christmas - or at least anything over Christmas involving things they'd like to ban: drinking, staying up late, going out to parties, kisses, eating rich puddings with custard or cream, taking the kids for a festive Happy Meal, lashings of ginger beer, red meat, sausages, cheese, sleeping in the afternoon and anything else involving any sort of pleasure. Including of course the annual (and I'm told, 'much loved') Coca-Cola "Happy Holidays" truck tour.

As you know, I find it very difficult to why it's any part of anyone's business whether or not the Coca-Cola Christmas lorry arrives in town. Especially if your reason for objecting to the bright red truck coming is because you've convinced yourself that somehow Coca-Cola are entirely responsible for children being fat with poor teeth. Here's astroturf "campaign group" Food Active"(100% funded by your taxes):
It is with huge disappointment and concern that we see Coca-Cola are once again using the Christmas period to promote their sugary drinks across the North West in their “Happy Holidays” truck tour.

We are aware of the damage caused by these drinks which play a major role in the soaring obesity and type 2 diabetes figures in our region which place a huge and growing strain on the National Health Service.

The Chief Executive of the NHS has said that “We are now spending more on obesity-related conditions … than we are on the police or fire service.”

In the North West, 35.2% of ten-eleven year olds are overweight or obese and 33.4% of five year olds have teeth decay, largely down to their consumption of sugary drinks.
This contains some untruths - firstly the cost to the NHS of obesity (at least according to those libertarian folk at Public Health England) is £4.2 billion whereas the cost of policing in 2016 was £12.6 billion so Simon Stevens is making stuff up again. And secondly, childhood obesity and tooth rot is not - even a little bit - "down to...consumption of sugary drinks". Even if they were, then it's almost certainly not Coca-Cola that's the primary culprit. More to the point, we know absolutely how to reduce the incidence of dental caries in children - good dental hygeine (you know, brush your teeth twice a day, visit the dentist).

But public health people lying isn't my beef here. Rather it's why on earth they think banning Coca-Cola from promoting its products (including zero and low sugar products that amount to over half of the sales) is any of their business. What is truly offensive here is that your and my taxes are being used to mount an ill-informed and misleading attack on a private business. Hardly a day passes without one or other story about local councils being forced by budget cuts into closing and reducing services. All of the money for 'Food Active' comes from local council budgets in the North West and they are using it for the express purpose of lobbying for national government to change the law (as well as wanting to ban Coca-Cola's "Happy Holidays" promotion).

So next time Manchester or Liverpool council leaders wring their hands about shutting down a library or cutting funding for a community centre ask them how they can justify spending money on astroturf political campaigns like 'Food Active'.



Mark In Mayenne said...

What can be done to stop these people and others like them wasting our taxes like this?

Unknown said...

Mark - I've been asking that question for a lot of years now.