The Genie in the Bottle

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The "drink with less consequence" alcohol marketing seen recently with the Skinnygirl Cocktails campaign in the US has come to life again with Anti-aGin in the UK. Anti-aGin is a gin infused with collagen and antioxidizing botanticals that was created by UK-based Warner Leisure Hotels, in collaboration with contemporary food design company Bompas & Parr. It's enthusiastically marketed as a "Skin and Tonic" or a facial in a bottle.

I thought that consumers had become pretty sophisticated in the last 50 years since the surgeon general banned cigarette ads touting the supposed health benefits of a cancer causing, highly addictive drug. With the increase of public scrutiny and the enactment of laws banning public smoking, cigarette advertising and smoking itself have lost much of their former glamour. Yet, even though the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared alcohol as a carcinogen in 1988, why does it appear the alcohol industry remains immune to the laws that govern cigarette advertising?

Skinnygirl cocktails and Anti-aGin are marketed across generations and cultures with the same message: drinking makes you cool, sexy, fun and fully alive, it's an essential component of a life well lived and we've answered your concerns about the less attractive side effects of alcohol.

Skinnygirl cocktails are the perfect drink for weight conscious young woman. Although I'm sure they were never meant to be, Skinnygirl products and the promotional campaign that sells them seem custom made for the alcorexic lifestyle.

Alcorexics starve themselves with low calorie diets all day or week to allow for nightly binging or weekend party blowouts. Admissions in London hospitals for young women with alcohol related liver disease have risen 112% in the last decade. But Skinnygirl is of course a US brand and the huge increase in binge drinking among young American women has provided an excellent market for Skinnygirl.

"Skinnygirl® isn't just a drink. It's a lifestyle. You know what you want out of life, ladies - we're just here to show you how to."

The lifestyle of many Skinnygirl enthusiasts is dangerous, addictive, and definitely unhealthy, resulting in anything but empowerment for young women.

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The same idea that alcohol is essential to a fun, sexy, zesty life is used to sell Anti-aGin to the mothers and grandmothers of the alcorexic generation. Marc Caulfield, head of marketing at Warner Leisure Hotels, explains the new drink as the perfect solution for their clients.

"Our guests are predominantly over 50, but they are all young at heart and love to stay social and drink and dance long into the night,"

If Warner Hotels truly wanted to encourage their fun loving over-fifty guests to dance into the night, why not commission a series of antioxidant infused iced green teas? I know that alcohol sales are a huge cash cow for hotel chains and profit trumps their concern for the health and well-being of their clientele, but the generation of women that Warner Hotels is talking about here is increasingly drinking to dangerous levels. I'm sure that Anti-aGin will quickly find a market outside of the UK as well, as many have reported that female alcohol abuse is a global epidemic.

Let's be honest - iust as the slightly lower calorie count in Skinnygirl cocktails is not going to counteract the negative metabolic effects of alcohol on the body, the collagen and botanicals in Anti-aGin are not going to stop or reverse the aging effects of the gin itself. One does not cancel out the other.

I bought the idea for many years that drinking was necessary to a life well lived. I was also quite happy to be enabled by health reports that suggested red wine was essential to heart health and might even promote weight loss. Eventually I became one of those consumers that the alcohol industry depends on for it's profits. Around the age of forty six I became addicted to alcohol. I began needing to drink to experience pleasure and relax. Slowly but surely alcohol became a ball and chain that was dragging me down rather than the empowering elixir it is often purported to be.

I found the fountain of youth that's being suggested by the makers of Anti-aGin when I put the bottle down.

At the beginning of my second alcohol free year my skin is glowing, my metabolism has balanced out I can pretty much eat what I want without worrying about my weight. For me the biggest difference however is not how I look but how I feel. At fifty one I feel ten years younger than I did at forty nine. I'm happier, more energized, more genuine and spontaneous. This new completely sober middle aged me is full of creative drive and looking to the future with a zest I haven't felt since my late twenties.

Until we hold the alcohol industry to the same standards of truth that the tobacco industry is expected to follow they will continue to sell their wares as the solution rather than the problem. I have learned from my own experience that alcohol addiction can creep up on anyone who drinks often enough and it is an addiction that kills.

I don't see this kind of manipulative alcohol marketing coming to an end anytime soon but we can think for ourselves. If you enjoy a cocktail than please do enjoy your cocktail but don't let the alcohol industry convince you that their product is beauty in a bottle .

Rethink the Drink. It may be the best gift you can give yourself.