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ABA slams new “risky drinkers” classification

A report released today by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) that redefines the classification for “risky drinkers” has been slammed by Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA).

The ABA said millions of responsible Australians who have made no changes to their drinking habits have now been categorised as risky drinkers due to “a process captured by leading anti-alcohol activists”.

Drinking guidelines from the NHMRC were recently revised from 14 standard drinks to 10 per week.

According to the ABA, that means now, “with a stroke of a pen” an additional 2.1 million adults have been reclassified as “risky drinkers”. (AIHW)

Andrew Wilsmore

“Setting the new guidelines was a totally compromised process that did not take into account the difference between men and women and personal consumption patterns,” said Alcohol Beverages Australian CEO, Andrew Wilsmore (above).

“Risk varies from men to women and how often you choose to drink in a week. Despite their own evidence showing an every-day drinking man can have up to 18.5 drinks a week and women 14 a week, the NHMRC plucked 10 a week as their advice for all Australians.

“Australians had little faith in the new guidelines. This just confirms their thinking.”

Under the previous guidelines 16.8% (3.86 million) of the adult population were assessed as drinking at risky levels (more than two drinks a day) now this has jumped this up to 26.1% (6.03 million) of the population (drinking more than 10 drinks a week).

“Australians deserve pat on the back for changing our drinking culture to one where moderation is the new norm,” said Wilsmore. “Per capita alcohol consumption is less now than it was 50 years ago.

“Putting anti-alcohol activists in charge of developing the new guidelines has simply redefined the problem to suit their own purposes and alarmist agenda.

“By overstating the level of risky drinking, activists are emboldened to erode the freedoms enjoyed by responsible drinkers, with their mantra of increasing prices, banning promotions, and reducing availability of beer, wine and spirits.  Instead, harmful drinking continues to fall and Aussie drinkers deserve to be congratulated, not condemned.”

Click here to read the full NHMRC report:

Data shows alcohol consumption fell in 2020

Earlier this month, Roy Morgan reported that data gathered from its continuous survey of tens of thousands of Australians revealed that widespread fears about excessive alcohol consumption during 2020 had proven to be baseless.

Panic-buying in liquor stores and screenshots of Zoom happy hours in the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a flood of warnings that Australians’ alcohol consumption was on the rise. However the data showed something different. In fact, alcohol consumption continued to decline gently during 2020 as it has done for the past decade and a half.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says packaged liquor sales spiked during 2020 but that doesn’t mean overall consumption rose.

“There was a lot of hypothesising about the changes to various purchasing and consumption habits that might result from the pandemic,” she said. “Some of that speculation proved accurate — for instance the huge shift to shopping online. But some did not, and our data shows the dire warnings about huge rises in the level of alcohol consumption fall into that category.

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