Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Another report on the perils of drink

Interesting article from the Press and Journal:

Another report on the perils of drink

NOT a day seems to go by without the minority Scottish administration berating the public with another damning report on the perils of drink.

We are bombarded with statistic after statistic, report after report; some cynics might suspect a desperate propaganda war was being waged to avoid another embarrassing SNP humiliation on a key party policy.

Alcohol abuse is a drain on NHS resources, but we can only guess at how much this orchestrated political spin-doctoring is costing the taxpayer. The latest alcohol figures seized on by ministers Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney were so relentlessly mind-boggling that there is a danger their audience will simply switch off.

Where are these figures plucked from and how are they worked out? We never seem to find out. It would be interesting to see how much cash for the NHS and to generate profit and jobs in retail and the drinks industry comes from the vast majority of responsible drinkers.

A huge proportion of patients are admitted to hospital with a range of self-inflicted conditions every day, from drink, obesity, drugs and recklessness on the roads to self-inflicted industrial and DIY accidents. Shall we tax them all?

Penalising the majority with a catch-all pricing policy is not the magic bullet. People will switch brands for a cheaper alternative. Ingrained cultural behaviour has to change. A sustained zero-tolerance crackdown by police, courts and the drinks industry on drunken public behaviour would be a starting point, but it’s quick and easy to raise prices and the minority administration cannot afford a bruising defeat so close to its biggest challenge of all – delivering a referendum on independence.


Strathturret said...

Hmm the Tory Part line. Always were in the pockets of the brewers and distillers (Youngers and McEwans much to fore in 'Scots' Tory party).

You want to look at measures taken by Lloyd George in WWI when over indulgence in alcohol was threatening war effort.

It included increasing the price and reducing the opening hours. It worked!

Jim said...

Hi Strathturret,

Thanks for your comment.

You'll appreciate I didn't write that, it was from the P&J.

I'd point out that extending the licensing hours was a response to the opinion that the retention of WWI drinking restrictions was responsible for binge drinking.

Personally, I'm of the view that this is a sophisticated issue that won't be solved with simplistic solutions.



Strathturret said...

Nobody is saying its simple. that's why we see a number of measures inacted already/being proposed. Price is part of the overall equation. Alcohol has become ridiculously cheap over past 20-30 years.