Let’s get this right. Medical professionals insist that there is evidence that alcohol causes all sorts of health problems, bearing in mind that their profession is riddled with drink and drugs abuse.
Our politicians unfortunately agree and decide to take action. Also bearing in mind that in Westminster they have nice bars and restaurants which sell alcohol at reduced prices. I’m not sure what happens in the Scottish Parliament so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t have the same privileges.
So a decision is taken to act and they decide on minimum pricing. Whilst not wishing to allow facts to get in the way of a good policy there are sound reasons why this is a bad move. Mainly because Finland, as an example, has the highest prices in Europe for alcohol and people there drink more than any other nation in Europe. The UK comes mid table for alcohol consumption although the rate of duty on alcohol is third highest in Europe. The rate of duty is a nice little earner for the Government. That being the case you could argue that, perverse as it might seem, drinkers have paid for the treatment they might require from the NHS.
Say the minimum pricing goes ahead. That means that the Scottish Government are saying to everyone who sells alcohol put up your prices and charge your customers more. Please make more profits from your customers. Is this a government prerogative? Does this make sense?
The causes of alcohol overuse and abuse require societal change. The attitude that drinking should result in inebriation every weekend etc. and there’s peer pressure to do so is where encouraging change is required. The resulting violence and bad behaviour following alcohol abuse, which is seen in all major towns and cities every weekend, has a real cost in police time and the NHS.
What to do? Make alcohol abuse socially unacceptable. Present drinkers who have caused trouble or have needed NHS emergency treatment due to drunkenness etc. with a bill which reflects reasonable costs incurred with an additional small percentage of the money raised specifically re-invested back into the Police and NHS to aid alcohol use education etc.
It’s also worth mentioning that the higher the price of alcohol the more people will make their own or will buy from illicit sources. As with all things the problem is more complex than the intended solution and as such will cause other unforeseen issues. Cause-effect-cause…
Let’s have a policy from Holyrood which is innovative and progressive.