Wine label warnings and the nanny state

When did we become such puritans?

Sir, – I thoroughly enjoyed Finn McRedmond’s article “When did we begin to become such puritans?” (Opinion & Analysis, January 26th) and felt this kind of statement was long overdue.

If you think the anti-alcohol puritans are done after warning labels, minimum unit pricing and advertising restrictions, then think again.

Alcohol Action Ireland recently posted on their website proposals for new “alcohol outlet density” laws that would in effect limit the number of off-licences per town or village to one, as well as severely restricting off-licence opening hours.

At what point do grown-up adults capable of making their own choices just say “Enough”? – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.

Sir, – While our national tendency toward litigation may partially justify a desire to label alcohol products as carcinogenic, the underlying logic is likely to cause widespread alarm and some technical difficulties if broadly adopted.

Even limited to the most clear cut of cases – ie those designated level one carcinogens by the international association for research on cancer – it would include many common medications, some of which are widely used to treat cancer.

Apart from alcohol, smoked fish and processed meat, there are many occupations, including furniture making, shoe manufacture and sweeping chimneys, that ought to similar carry warnings.

Labelling air pollution and sunlight would be particularly tricky. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – Is it not time to retire the flabby old trope of the “nanny state” (Letters, January 27th)?

Public health measures have radically improved the lives of hundreds of thousands people for over a century. And every single life enhancing public health measure has been opposed by some narrow sectoral interest (most recently the Italian farmers), citing the “nanny state”.

Most people want to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible and accurate health information helps to achieve that.

The public are interested and engaged in their well-being; they are entitled to receive the information they need to live as well as they wish to. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – If I recall correctly, at some point it has been suggested that too much red meat is bad for you, along with sugar, tobacco, too many eggs, farmed salmon, processed foods, excess dairy, saturated fats, caffeine, too much protein, not enough protein, bacon, ham, and please don’t get me started on salt.

Goodness, I think I need a drink. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Finn McRedmond laments the plans to add warning labels to wine bottles and asks “When did we become such puritans?”

As an Irish Presbyterian – and therefore an intellectual descendant of the Puritans – I have to point out that this plan is far worse than puritanical.

The Reformers were not teetotalers.

In fact, as historian Jeanine E Olson has demonstrated, part of the pay-packet for a religious leader in Geneva was a monthly supply of wine.

Officials in the Department of Health might not like to think of themselves as more dour than Calvin, but that is what it appears they are. – Is mise,



Co Kildare.