Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Underage & Binge Drinking

The Scottish Parliament is to consider setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to decrease underage drinking. Well meaning yes but surely doomed to failure.

An increase in price high enough to have any effect will at the same time make buying booze in low price England and bringing it into Scotland an attractive proposition for many and a thriving black market will soon develop. Amongst the young some bright spark will quickly catch on to buying a bottle of Vodka and selling it on at an affordable £3 per nip and either end up being stabbed for his profits or become the next Sir Fred Goodwin.

Public Houses, particularly in rural areas, are social centres and an important part of our heritage and yet are closing down at an alarming rate. A good pub landlord will quickly spot an under age customer or someone who has ‘had enough’ and not serve them, providing a degree of gentle but effective control. The Government could introduce a two tier taxation system on alcohol whereby supermarkets and off licences had a very high tax rate and pubs a much lower one. This way young people are financially discouraged, adults are not penalised and the pubs have their survival chances greatly enhanced.

All that said, the real question is ‘why’ is there such an increase in drinking particularly among the young? Affordability is certainly a factor, the price of alcohol is quite cheap and in fact in some supermarkets cider is cheaper than bottled water.

Consider for a moment though, if you are brought up in a system where you are regularly tested on your ability to conform to narrowly defined educational achievements. You live your life watched by unseen eyes through CCTV cameras and you are judged by society not by who you are or what you can do but by what material possessions that you have. You see your parents working longer and harder just to keep abreast of the mortgage repayments or exorbitant rents and are too tired to engage you in a proper family life and can see this as your future too. On top of all this the media constantly gives the impression that your life is in imminent danger of being lost by stabbing or shooting and rarely highlights anything good happening. Wouldn’t you be tempted to escape into an alcoholic haze? I know I probably would but I was lucky, very lucky, as I grew up when the people of Britain were working together rebuilding the nation after WW2, when the NHS came into being and relieved the fear of accident or illness. A period of time when there was less inequality and trying to improve the quality of life had yet to turn into greed.

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