The time has come for drinkers to have a voice on the role alcohol plays in their lives says Byron Davies.

The freedom to enjoy a good drink is a wonderful thing. The first sip of a beer after a long day’s hard work is something we look forward to as we switch our minds off from the stresses and strains of everyday office politics, traffic jams, delayed trains home and rotten news headlines. Or perhaps, the freedom to share an important moment over a few drinks with loved ones to celebrate a big birthday, a wedding or even a football result you’ll want to remember forever.

Most of us can conjure up those fond memories which stick with us forever. However, not everybody wants you to enjoy those moments over your favourite tipple. Because the increasing presence of the anti alcohol lobby has dominated some of that rotten news, and is now starting to influence government decisions. Reading headlines about ‘Drunk Britain’ and the perils of alcohol can leave a nasty taste in your mouth; and trust me, it isn’t the beer. But while so called ‘experts’ from the anti booze brigade are telling you that all drinking is bad for you, who is taking the time to ask you, the consumer, what you think?

That is where Drinkers’ Voice comes into play. We are an alcohol consumer organisation which seeks to give the UK’s drinkers the chance to share their views on the role which alcohol plays in their life. Whether you prefer a pint in the pub or a glass of wine over dinner at home, we want you to have your say about why having that freedom to drink is important to your lifestyle.

And it isn’t just about freedoms; it’s about our health too. Decades of research has shown that drinking moderately is better for us than abstaining altogether. It also shows that alcohol is good for our heart health, lowering our risk of cardiovascular disease in particular. While these are facts, it isn’t often we read about them when we pick up a newspaper or scroll through news headlines online. We just aren’t given the full facts, and instead, we are told that there is no safe level of drinking, and that all alcohol is bad for us.

The power of Drinkers’ Voice means that the way that we speak and think about alcohol doesn’t have to be dictated to us, but for the first time we now have a vehicle to share our views about the role alcohol plays in our life, for good and for bad. It is important that people know the full truths about alcohol before they choose whether or not to have another drink. The current case, where people increasingly accept the rhetoric that all alcohol is bad for us is not only inaccurate, but it has dangerous implications for our health. If one drink is bad, then why not have three, four, five more?

I’m excited by the potential Drinkers’ Voice has in changing the debate on drinking, and I am equally heartened by the support of CAMRA, which has made this organisation possible by offering key advice and seed funding to get us off of the ground. That is why I snapped up the opportunity to go forward as Chair. However, like any new initiative, we are working on a tight purse string, and are now relying on kind donations from those of you who believe this is a cause which is necessary to stop the overpowering, well funded anti-alcohol lobbyists.

Without Drinkers’ Voice, there is every chance that 10 or 20 years down the line, we will see Public Health look to a stack of biased consultation responses and pushy correspondence from the anti-alcohol lobby, and consider positions such as plain packaging, increased taxes and restricted access to alcohol purchasing to be those that represent the views of the general public. However, with the power of our united voice echoing across the country, with a supporters network built over the years to come, embedded in communities and in the ears of politicians, future governments will be forced to listen to our case: Drinking in moderation is good for us, so give us the whole truth.

If you’re as passionate as I am about the difference we can make, I’d ask that you be part of the newest consumer organisation and donate your next round to Drinkers’ Voice by pledging on the website www.drinkersvoice.org.uk.

You can also follow Drinkers’ Voice on Twitter: @DrinkersVoiceUK And on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrinkersVoiceUK

Byron Davies is the first chair of the new alcohol consumer organisation, Drinkers’ Voice. A former MP, he was also a Metropolitan Police Officer. Drinkers’ Voice is independent from industry influence, and is instead relying on funding from members of the public.

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