Wednesday 28 November 2012

Policy Statement: Minimum alcohol price

Just a few facts:

1. There is no "binge drinking epidemic". Firstly, alcohol consumption in the UK has been pretty much unchanged for decades, and if anything has declined in recent years. Secondly, an "epidemic" means the fast spread of an infectious disease. Drinking booze is not an infectious medical condition.

2. There is no "booze fuelled crime wave". Yes, some people get into fights and behave badly when they are drunk, that is a small minority, these are not people who rob banks, blow up trains or kidnap children. These are not hard core criminals, these are people who can't handle their booze, and the victims are mainly other people who've enjoyed a drink themselves and are trying to make their way home.

3. Drinkers already more than pay for "the cost to the NHS" or "the cost to society".

Alcohol duty alone raises £10.5 billion a year; we can at least double that for VAT on top and extra Business Rates for pubs. The entire UK police budget is about £15 billion, how much of that relates to policing city centres at chucking out time? Out of an NHS medical budget of £80 billion or so, how much relates to A&E, and how much of that is alcohol related? £5 billion tops?

As to saving 3,000 lives a year, even if that were true (it's not), we've all got to die of something, they can't "save lives" they can only prolong life a bit.

4. The much vaunted model which is supposed to show that a minimum price of X will reduce consumption Y per cent is (just like the safe weekly limits which were plucked out of the air) based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, these people just worked backwards from the answers they wanted and programmed their crude spreadsheet accordingly.

5. Besides the miserable Prohibitionists, there is another group of vested interests discreetly pushing for minimum pricing, and that's the supermarkets, for obvious reasons.

So what do we have here? A non-existent problem being dealt with by a measure which won't "work", even judged by their standards.

YPP says: enjoy your booze while it's still legal; don't drink and drive; don't take yourself too seriously when you're pissed; and drink a pint of water and take two aspirin before you go to bed. A fried breakfast the next morning usually helps.

1 comment:

  1. 4 is a bit like the "linear non threshold model" for doses of ionising radiation, of the anti nuke fanatics. Google it for some fascinating knowledge.

    Also adding taxes onto alcohol ups the price of everything else used in its production. A damaging tariff.

    Nevertheless, not being a prohibitionist, we still need to ask why people need so much alcohol. Be honest, 2 pints a night makes you feel good and why not. Anything more is mitigating something deeper missing.

    Yes, get hammered once in a while too. No different to the madness of riding a mountain bike 12 hour solo non stop. It hurts. But is worth it for a reason science will never explain.