Drink website focuses on dangers of excess

I OBJECT most strongly to the gross misrepresentation by Dr Bobby Smyth (Letters, August 4) of the function and format of the drinkaware.ie website, launched in 2006 by MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society).

This interactive site was developed to promote responsible use of alcohol by the 18-to-29 age group who we know are prone to abuse it, and it focuses strongly on the health dangers of excessive consumption.

A major obstacle to promoting responsible alcohol consumption is that many people have no idea what constitutes a measure of alcohol and what are the low-risk levels of consumption.

With these factors in mind, the drinkaware.ie website contains considerable information on what constitutes a standard drink (10 grammes of pure alcohol), and restates the Department of Health and Children advice that up to 14 standard drinks for women and 21 standard drinks for men is the low-risk weekly threshold. To promote this kind of awareness, and bearing in mind that different drinks contain different amounts of alcohol, drinkaware.ie also enables individuals to set up their own confidential diary to track their own drinking by alcohol type and brand to establish exactly what amount of alcohol they are consuming. The website has been set up in such a way that MEAS has no access to the diary information, which is entirely confidential to the user.

To claim, as Dr Smyth does, that the purpose of this diary is to “provide free market research information to the drinks industry” is outrageous and contemptible. The website also highlights the dangers of alcohol abuse and includes a section where drinkers can measure their drinking behaviour against WHO criteria that could alert people to the need to “cut down on or seek help with your drinking”.

Dr Smyth describes himself as a lecturer in addiction in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care in Trinity College. His resort to such distortion does no credit to his role or his institution.

Fionnuala Sheehan

Chief Executive


Merrion House

Fitzwilliam Street Lower

Dublin 2

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