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Lets talk about booze pricing - Ed's journal
sobrique
sobrique
Lets talk about booze pricing
In the news and in debate at the moment, is the notion of a minimum price on alcohol.
In case you've missed it, the argument goes something like this:
Alcohol should have a (regulatory) minimum price per unit, and supermarkets etc. are not allowed to sell it for less than that.

The reason being that we still have 'binge drinking' and the major demographic where this is a problem is lower income areas. Thus by increasing the base price, it becomes more expensive to binge, and thus less people do it.

What do you think of the idea?

Personally, I'd have to say I'm against it - it won't stop people drinking to excess, even if you set the price really quite high - it might just mean they do it a bit less frequently, but probably not.

Thing is, generally speaking, I'm ... actually quite keen on the notion that educating and liberating is the way to go - if someone really wants to 'get wasted' then they will - it might not be alcohol if you make that expensive though.

But that should come as no surprise - I'm keen on the notion of being able to choose - there's no real reason why one substance is any better or worse than another, and recreational substances (ab)use ... well, we've been doing it since the first fermented fruit.
I don't see a problem if people want to mess themselves up by substance use, just as long as they're aware of what they're doing and why, and what the consequences might be. In some ways, it's a self fixing problem.
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Comments
purp1e_magic From: purp1e_magic Date: January 28th, 2010 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Some time ago they tried a similar thing with cigarettes. Now this is hear-say, I don't have any evidence to back this up. But what happened was that those lower income households 'had to' spend so much on cigarettes that they were making cuts in much more problematic parts of their budgets to do so, namely fresh fruit and veg for their kids. So then they introduced veg vouchers to go with milk vouchers, so that poorer households still provide healthy foods for their children. As I understand it, it's still not working, to the extent that they are trialling free school breakfasts before school and free school dinners for all children in some places. Where they've trialled it, the children's performance has increased dramatically at school.

This comes from bits I've caught on the radio, a bit from when I was studying the education news for my teacher training interview, and discussions with people who follow the news more than I do.

But if that model is anything to go by, increasing the cost of alcohol will increase the burden on the state to meet childhood poverty targets, and generally increase the overall burden on other services.
4givensins From: 4givensins Date: January 28th, 2010 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)
It's like prohibition lite, we all know how that went. I wholly agree that it's a bad idea, also, maybe it's just because I'm older but I've seen less binge drinking more recently. I think the same stigma that's attached to smoking is drifting towards alcohol, more people seem to know its bad for the and have nights off drinking etc. It's also the sort of thing you need to sneak through parliament while nobodys watching, because I really can't see much of the population being in support of expensive booze, can you?
mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: January 28th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's a tremendous idea.

Alcohol affordability is one of the few things which there is considerable evidence for the effectiveness of. A minimum price - as opposed to a tax - will not harm pubs (who are already charging considerably above the proposed levels) and have little or no impact on quality alcohol since it all costs more than that anyway. All it will do is put an end to ultra-cheap alcohol and help pubs compete against supermarkets.

The only problem comes when the government starts sneaking the minimum price up and up and up.
tomf_ From: tomf_ Date: January 28th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Minimum price on alcohol is not a great solution, but I can't think of a better one.

Education only works if the pupil respects the teacher. I doubt people who get drunk every night have much respect for the government right now.

The problem is not 'self-fixing'. Any addict will cause a great deal of pain to those they know and society as a whole long before they manage to kill themselves.
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