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Observations Alcohol and Public Health

Costs of minimum alcohol pricing would outweigh benefits

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1572 (Published 19 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1572

Rapid Response:

Re: Costs of minimum alcohol pricing would outweigh benefits

While I am happy to take the credit for colourful adjectives regarding Prof. Chapman's advancing years, his killer example of my 'invective' ('insane wibblings' etc.) was not written by me but by one of my blog's readers. As Chapman provides a link to the post in question, it is surprising that he did not read it more thoroughly. My words appear in the main text of the post under my name whereas comments appear below the post under the heading 'comments'. This is how blogs typically work.

In any case, a distinction must be drawn between jibes made for comic effect and defamatory accusations made in earnest. For example, when Prof Chapman referred to me as an 'Olympian t**spot' on social media last July [tweet deleted but Google has kept a trace of it here: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=simonchapman6+olympian+tosspot&ie=UTF-... ] that was mere vulgar abuse and was not to be taken too seriously. I fully defend his right to make such remarks. But when, more recently, he described members of the liberal student organisation Liberty League as 'racists', it was a serious slur [ https://twitter.com/SimonChapman6/status/438388238089089024 ]. Similarly, Mr Gornall's description of free market institutes as being on the 'far-right' goes beyond vulgar abuse and requires evidence or apology, particularly since it was not made in the social media playground but in a serious journal.

Contrary to Prof Chapman's claim, I have had articles published in peer-reviewed journals [ http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1745-9265&volume=13&issu...

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0270.2010.02039_4.x/ab... ] and I have also reviewed articles for peer-reviewed journals. However, considering the amount of nonsense that has passed peer review over the years [ http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full ], I prefer to look at the merits of research rather than relying on its source.

I am happy to expand on my declaration by reproducing verbatim what I originally sent the BMJ:

"The author has occasionally spoken at meetings organised by the alcohol industry and the government. He has received a fee in neither instance, but has sometimes received travel and accommodation expenses."

Prof Chapman and Mr Gornall might view trivial expenses to attend conferences as "ties". I call it working for free.'

Competing interests: The author has occasionally spoken at meetings organised by the alcohol industry and the government. He has received a fee in neither instance, but has sometimes received travel and accommodation expenses.

19 March 2014
Christopher Snowdon
Director of lifestyle economics
Institute of Economic Affairs
2 Lord North Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3LB