Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Booze Views In News.

I'm not going to gratuitously insult the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, who proposed a minimum price for alcohol last week, others have already done that better than I could anyway.

His demand would reduce consumption, but indiscriminately so with the decrease affecting responsible drinkers as much as binge drinkers and alcoholics.

It isn't even as if alcohol abuse is a crisis that we have to deal with, alcohol consumption is falling and has been for a few years. I can't find up to date information but as of 2002 (pdf file) the number of heavy drinkers was also falling slightly.
Since 2000,however, there has been some indication of a slight
decline. The proportion of men drinking more than 21
units a week on average fell from 29% to 28% in 2001
and 27% in 2002. This appears to be due to a fall in
consumption among younger men (in particular those
aged 16 to 24). Because of the relatively small sample
size, however, the decline in that age group is not large
enough to be statistically significant. There was also a
fall in the proportion of women drinking more than 14
units a week (from 17% in 2000 to 15% in 2001, rising
back to 17% in 2002).
Even the data that Sir Liam Donaldson is using shows that alcohol consumption has declined slightly since 2004, even as it becomes more affordable. So in effect he is advocating a radical expansion of state power to solve a problem that appears to be improving slightly anyway.

None of this is to say that Britain doesn't have problems with drink, the fact that many of our town centres are no go areas on Friday evenings testifies to that, but the problem is cultural and not caused by bargain basement booze, after all how many bars sell the stuff at below the minimum price Donaldson advocates?

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