I previously had listed a set of 12 Policies that were approved last year by the IOGT-USA Triennial Meeting.
With this entry, I am elaborating on Policies #3 and #4, giving reasons for their importance, and then offering suggestions for how you as a member can help in the enhancement of these policies. I conclude this entry with some Late Night TV humor related to the Cinco de Mayo “holiday.”
These two Policy statements (3 & 4) are being presented together as the rationale and suggested actions to be taken for each are basically very similar.
POLICY #3, ALL INGREDIENTS ARE TO BE LISTED ON EACH ALCOHOL PRODUCT
We advocate that all alcohol products sold in any venue have the complete list of ingredients clearly presented along with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) label of nutritional values of all ingredients as do all other consumable items.
POLICY #4, A COMPLETE LIST OF HEALTH WARNINGS INCLUDING POSSIBLE INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS SHALL ALSO BE INCLUDED
We advocate that, since alcohol is a legal drug for adults, it be subject to all of the rules and regulations applied to other legal drugs: e.g., the purchaser is furnished a complete list of warnings of possible negative outcomes, including possible alcohol addiction.
RATIONALE: Here we find probably the most vital reasons why the alcohol industry has wanted to avoid any association with other drugs. If the industry would have to adhere to the laws and regulations of all other products consumed by our society, the large variety of potential negative effects would be noticed almost immediately by the public and could hurt sales.
It seems to be a given that since alcohol is a drug, more complete warnings should be given on each container, including the possibility of addiction. All ingredients, including the alcohol content (which some bottlers omit now – e.g., Coors, Miller Lite) would have to be on each label, including nutritional information.
Perhaps, most importantly, a list of possible side effects and specific warnings of interactions with other drugs would be an automatic part of every purchase. Even casual listening to TV commercials in America suggests that perhaps 3 out of 5 advertised prescription drugs have some type of adverse interaction with alcohol. What is the amount of negative interaction toward the entire scope of prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs?
A key word in our political landscape today is “transparency,” and it is here where we want the alcohol industry to be especially transparent. There should be no secrets about how much alcohol is in a given drink, or what the side effects of consuming this beverage are. And, one of the major side effects may be that alcohol use leads to addiction.
These policies obviously would not be necessary if the regulations in your country already meet these objectives.
What can you do to advance this policy?
A. You might bring an assortment of alcohol and other bottles and cans, prescriptions, and over the counter drugs to a club meeting to observe together the differences between the requirements of the FDA (or equivalent in your country) products and the non-FDA products (alcohol). Have members bring copies of the warning/informational material that came with the prescription and over the counter drugs. Note especially the difference in warning labels/information.
B. Here again, a massive letter writing/e mail campaign by you and your club/ organization is vitally important. Congressmen and the President generally report that they view every letter/email from a citizen to be representing at least 10 other citizens. Having each member write individual letters tends to have a greater impact, but a form letter is definitely better than none.
C. Again, the media needs to be involved. You might have some media persons who are sympathetic with this cause and you could perhaps get some good help in your community as to how to best proceed there. Just know that newspapers and TV news shows have significant time/space to fill so they are always looking for good stories to present. Make yours good. You might want to have a story to include more than one of the above policies, perhaps all four.