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If you’ve been wondering how our attitude toward beverage alcohol went from moderation to abstinence in the time it takes to crack open a Stelvin closure, well, you’re not alone.

Over at WineBusiness Monthly, writer Felicity Carter was wondering the same thing. And so began her deep dive into a story titled “How Neo-Prohibitionists Came to Shape Alcohol Policy.” It’s a fascinating and somewhat alarming read.

As you likely recall. in January 2023 the World Health Organization announced that there was “no safe level” of alcohol consumption; seven months later, the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Abuse updated its alcohol guidelines to allow only a maximum of two drinks per week (down from 15 for men and 10 for women). At risk, they said, was the increased likelihood of cancer. Not mentioned anywhere: the benefits of moderate consumption, especially with regard to heart disease, which have been well documented and underpinned health policy for decades.

So why the sudden turnaround?

In Carter’s deeply researched piece, she notes that the change really started in 2015 when the WHO was frustrated by the European Union’s inability to come up with a cohesive policy on alcohol abuse. Three years later, the WHO launched its SAFER series of policy suggestions to reduce alcohol-related harms.

SAFER, it turns out, was created “in collaboration with international partners” that included groups like the Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance organization founded in 1851 in upstate New York. Now rebranded Movendi International, it is based in Stockholm and calls itself “the largest independent global movement for development through alcohol prevention.”

In other words, it wants to defeat alcohol, and it’s only one such temperance group leading the charge. Worse, according to Carter, the “no safe level” message is just going to get louder and wider spread, so enjoy your Chablis and Cabernet while you can.

Read the full story at winebusinesscom.

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