Views from the substance misuse sector

Media savvy

The news and views from the national media

Buying ethically produced food, and making a statement about yourself by doing so, is now so easy it requires little or no thought. Thinking about where your narcotics come from, on the other hand, is so difficult it’s simply easier not to do so… We are, it seems, living in the age of the wonky moral compass: of middle-class couples who swear by their weekly organic veg box, and yet relax after dinner with a line of something produced by impoverished, subjugated Bolivian peasants.

Jay Rayner, Guardian, 19 August

Creating a fug of confusion, Public Health England suggests e-cigarettes should be dished out by the NHS, while the Welsh Government says they should be banned in enclosed public places. The Mail believes both are wrong… In different ways, both Public Health England and Labour-run Wales are behaving like nannies. How about treating the public like grown-ups?

Mail editorial, 20 August

The ‘public health’ lobby is a lumbering beast that goes from one extreme to another. If it is not trying to ban something, it is trying to subsidise it. What e-cigarettes and their users really need is to be left alone.

Christopher Snowdon, Telegraph, 19 August

Tobacco is the largest single cause of preventable deaths in England – e-cigarettes may have a part to play to curb tobacco use. But the reliance by PHE on work that the authors themselves accept is methodologically weak, and which is made all the more perilous by the declared conflicts of interest surrounding its funding, raises serious questions not only about the conclusions of the PHE report, but also about the quality of the agency’s peer review process. PHE claims that it protects and improves the nation’s health and wellbeing. To do so, it needs to rely on the highest quality evidence. On this occasion, it has fallen short of its mission.

Lancet editorial, 29 August

Our descendants will wonder if we were ourselves drugged as well as unhinged when, in future times, they mourn and regret our irreversible folly in legalising this dreadful poison [cannabis]. Haven’t alcohol and tobacco done enough damage, and made enough profit for cruel and greedy people?

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 23 August

As someone who chooses to not drink, I have become acutely aware of how alcocentric the UK is, and how drinking is consistently tied in with having fun and being happy and relaxed. The predominant message is that alcohol is a prerequisite for letting your hair down and living it up.

Lucy Rocca, Guardian, 12 August