A right to lobby on alcohol legislation
Sir, – In Dr Dermot Stokes’s recent letter “Lobby groups and advocacy services” (October 28th) the writer argued that the alcohol industry, as one group of the State’s citizens, are just as entitled to be included in the policy process of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as public health advocacy groups, who are in his mind just another group of citizens with their own – equally important – views.
However, this suggests we all inherently act as citizens whenever we engage in the political discourse of our society.
But to truly act as a citizen, it seems to me, the public good must be our paramount criterion with which we objectively judge policy and the condition of society.
This distinction quickly reveals the error of Dr Stokes’s argument.
While public health advocates are indeed a group of citizens contributing an important – and valid – perspective into this policy discourse, the alcohol lobby is acting not in their role of the citizen motivated by a concern for the public good, but as private, profit-seeking groups whose commercial interests are wholly at odds with the public good on this issue.
We must be suspicious of such sophistry as Dr Stokes’s that employs democratic language to further undemocratic ends. – Yours, etc,