‘UK named binge-drink capital of Europe’
‘Alcohol abuse to cost NHS an extra billion’
‘Booze Britain: How cheap alcohol is turning our girls into drunken hooligans’
These are all headlines we’ve seen recently in the UK press criticising the nation for its excessive consumption of booze. Add to that a few TV documentaries on ‘binge drinking fuelling attacks by young women’ and you’ve worked yourself up into a right panic over the number of glasses of wine you’ve drunk in the past week. Or at least the government has.
With no more than speculation that it will help solve Britain’s social problem, ministers have launched a 10-week consultation looking at whether or not to set a 45p/unit minimum price in a bid to tackle bargain buys and the mass purchase of high alcohol ciders and lagers. The reality is that the majority of responsible drinkers in the UK, who are already feeling the pinch with stretched budgets, will be hit the hardest if a bottle of gin comes in at £11 or more, BOGOF deals are banned, and various supermarket dining in offers (which surely encourage responsible drinking with food) are affected. When will it end?
There is no doubt that this country has a tricky relationship with alcohol but is price the right way to tackle it? A 5p difference in the cost per unit isn’t likely to stop students pre-loading on shots before they head out for the night!
According to Miles Beale, chief executive for the WSTA, “Minimum unit pricing and the proposed restrictions to promotions are wholly untargeted and will unfairly punish millions of consumers and businesses in the UK, while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse or associated crime and disorder."
What we really need is an emphasis on education for young people, highlighting the negative effects of overindulgence before they turn 18 and add to the statistics on binge drinking. Given the rising level of obesity in the UK, educating about excessive consumption clearly needn’t apply just to alcohol, but that’s a story for another day.
Posted by Jen Gevaux