You may proclaim your values anytime but during crisis you have to prove them. I admire Scotland which, three years ago, became the first part of the UK to outlaw smoking in public places and resisted to the lobby addressed by the tobacco industry against the regulation.
Recently, Scotland’s devolved government announced an initiative to set a minimum price for alcohol. Of course, Scotch Whisky Association claimed that such a measure would have damaging consequences on local alcohol export trade.
Before making an opinion, let’s see the reasons this initiative even started. Dr. Harry Burns, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said alcohol misuse claimed many hundreds of lives in Scotland every year – twice as many as 15 years ago. Moreover, Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary, said the scale of Scotland’s alcohol misuse problem was shocking: 42,500 alcohol-related hospital discharges; 1,500 deaths per year; soaring rates of liver cirrhosis; the eighth highest consumption in the world and a GBP 2.25bn annual cost in extra services and lost productivity.
Governments, like companies, have their own set of values. If they say their goal is to protect the citizens’ health, they should do so, even in crisis. Actually, especially during crisis because this is the time you really prove your commitment.
Likewise, any company can say, for instance, “we value people”. It is the crisis that makes the difference between those only saying it and those who really mean it.