Saturday, 23 February 2008

Alcohol epidemic

Gary Lewis (Maesteg) draws my attention to a British Medical Association report claiming that pricing and promotion of drinks was fuelling an "alcohol epidemic". He points out that Filco stores are selling 3 litres of white cider, 8% alcohol per volume, at just £2. This amounts to 24 units of alcohol: less than 10 pence per unit.

However, as an Independent reader points out in today's letter column ("Higher alcohol tax would penalise us all"), just raising the duty on alcohol would be another stealth tax. To have a serious deterrent effect on young drinkers, it would also penalise connoisseurs of fine wine and whisky, not to mention Aunt Gladys who likes a drop of sherry for her birthday and at Christmas.

As Mr Dunton of Appledore points out, it is the easy availability which is the problem. A better solution would be to stop supermarkets and corner groceries from selling booze. It should be relatively simple to draft legislation to restrict licences only to those premises whose main business is selling beers, wines and spirits. This would help the many pubs which are feeling the pressure from supermarket off-sales, and may even reinvigorate off-licence chains, like Oddbins.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

Sir Ian Gilmore was on "World at One" again today pressing the case for extra duty on alcohol. He had some compelling statistics to hand, but I still think reducing the number of outlets and times when off-sales are possible will lead to a quicker drop in inappropriate drinking. Young unmarrieds have much more disposable income than in my young days, so that a rise of more than 10% (which is what the Health Alcohol Alliance is calling for) would be needed.

The effect of a hike in duty alone would be an increase in "booze cruises" and more money in pockets of the operators of retail sheds in continental channel ports.