Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Minimum price on alcohol won't work'

Let's not get overblown about this: this is the Royal College of Physicians calling for minimum pricing, NOT the government.

What kind of meaningful research can predict accurately that introducing minimum pricing of 50p a unit will cut alcohol related disease by 20%? Is it not logical that people who suffer alcohol related disease are by default addicted and will likely find other ways of meeting their need? Perhaps there would be an initial reduction in the incidence of alcoholism but once people got the measure of being able to supply substitute alcohol it seems likely - admittedly without any trials or research to support the logic - that booze/hooch/scrumpy will get onto the market through the back door. Remember illicit stills? Home brewing wine/beer/cider? People switching to surgical spirits, glue, other substitutes to feed addiction.

Education, direct intervention and dealing effectively with behaviour is the answer to these social problems. Too expensive for government to contemplate so huge amounts of money will be thrown into 'good value' methods of trying to reduce alcohol consumption.

How clear is it that supermarkets sell booze 'below cost' and that this prevents them from selling healthy foods at cheap prices? Is the opinion of the highly educated blinkered RCP that if the smelly masses are offered a huge basket of apples for a fiver instead of an eight pack of Carlsberg they will opt for the fruit over the booze? Where does that thinking come from?

It's not hard to guess that if alcohol addicted people want to get pissed they aren't going to be stuffing themselves with fruit to satisfy their craving, even if it were free.

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