We shouldn’t accept the puritans frame of reference

This post first appeared on Drinkuary I’ve changed the title, and am adding this slight introduction. By accepting the puritans idea that there are irresponsible drinkers who it’s ok to punish we’re handing them victory from the outset. They are already accusing the drinks industry of using the tactic of the tobacco industry – I fear that hey may be right, that the drinks industry hasn’t learnt anything from the Puritans attack on tobacco and will use the same tactics with the same results. They may slow it down, but once you accept that punishing “irresponsible” drinkers is ok, then it will just be a case of changing what counts as a responsible drinker. “We only want to tackle inconsiderate smokers, by not allowing smoking in restaurants”…. and look what that’s lead to. Anyway here’s the original article.

Hands off our packs
As mentioned previously the Drinks industry have now launched their own campaign against minimum pricing and other parts of the Government Alcohol Strategy, well despite it not being the 6th yet their website is now at least largely live, over at:
They’ve got a prepared letter you can send to your MP, though I’ll say again an individual letter gets more attention, as well as a petition to sign.

Now I don’t know if they are just allowing for the government to inflate the consultation already of if they need to do a bit more editing but, the consultation says:
“The government is therefore consulting on the introduction of a recommended minimum unit price of 45p.”
The “why should we pay more” site says:
” A 50p minimum unit price would mean that the price of 65% of alcohol products sold in shops and supermarkets would increase in price.”
Which may well be true, but it’s 5p more than the Government is currently proposing. If you’re a cynical sort this is the type of thing which you might suspect would let the Government go “oh don’t worry we’ve no intention of introducing the 50p limit you’re worried about”
and then ignore the lot. I also think they’re mistaken in the focus of the campaign being:
“It’s OK to punish irresponsible drinkers, just leave us responsible types alone”
This allows for the denormalisation of some drinkers as “irresponsible”, and once that’s allowed then what counts as irresponsible can be shifted – and remember some medicals types are already saying the limit should be no more than a quarter of a pint a day. So today maybe irresponsible is those falling down in the street, tomorrow it’ll be anyone wanting to drink half a pint. They say the strategy doesn’t tackle the causes of alcohol abuse, but then accept that attacking “binge drinkers” is ok, forgetting the low limit at which we now get counted as binge drinkers. I think this is potentially a massive home goal and will allow for the same slippery slope as was the case with tobacco “we just want to tackle inconsiderate smokers” and look what that led to.

For my money, the campaign should be against the proposals in all the forms, rejecting utterly the separation of drinkers in responsible Vs. binge/irresponsible drinkers it merely slows the salami slicer – Why would a responsible drinker object to a license limiting them to responsible amounts? Why would responsible drinkers object to plain packaging? Why would responsible drinkers object to separate counters in the supermarket? Why would responsible drinkers object to a Government controlled limit to how much drink they buy at a time? And so on slice by slice by slice. If there is a problem with peoples behaviour after they’ve been drinking then there are already laws to deal with that, which can be enforced. If pubs, clubs or shops are selling booze to the under age or those already drunk there are laws in place that deal with that. Government statistics show we’re drinking less, we shouldn’t accept their claims of there being a binge drinking/irresponsible drinkers problem at all. Even the BBC say the Government should Stop exaggerating the problem.

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