Tuesday, March 17

More Booze

Hat from the V&A exhibition (photo from V&A publications). Government has spurned chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson's call for a minimum price of 50p per unit alcohol to cut consumption. Super Gee notes ".. as we crack down on binge and under-age drinking it’s also right that we do not want the responsible sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more or suffer as a result of the excesses of a small minority.” The minimum-charge for a 12% bottle of wine would be £3. This floor, the chief medical office models, nets a 7% decrease in booze and 10% in the binge-drinking younger set (the current bottle goes, on average, for around £4 in Britain). This nets 3,200 fewer drinks-related deaths per year and saves the UK economy some £20-30 billion in recouped wages and lost time from hang-overs. It also reduces hospital and emergency care in the tens of thousands of visits per year. Seems like a good investment to me since it also saves our center-towns from louts and drunkards who cavort, fight and vomit like a bunch of wild animals embarrassing all of us. The real pressure on Super Gee not the voters but the drinks industry and its influence over Big Politics. I do not doubt for a minute their ability to steer the debate, and indeed I listen to a spokesperson on Radio 4 discuss alternatives to a tax - like labelling and education. Fair enough, but the problem is that such measures, in place for years, don't work. There is something in this British culture about letting go - France, where the average bottle of wine is £1.70 has no similar problem .. so why the difference? Britain is a messier place and perhaps old habits die hard - unlike the Gallics who live inside tolerance Britain loves to let it rip.