Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Suggested Increase In Alcohol Prices- Here We Go Again

BBC Newsline has been suggesting that Northern Ireland might follow the lead of the Scottish, who are suggesting putting minimum prices on alcohol to tackle binge drinking.

What rubbish.

Wholesale, untargeted, punitive actions like this simply serve to punish everyone- they don't address the core problem. We need to look at why people binge drink, not simply hike up the prices of booze. Increased charges at the counter will just make people with a drink problem turn to cheap rubbish. And if they suffer from alcoholism, it will make them even more desperate to take whatever course of action is necessary to get their hands on drink. The fact is that there is inelastic demand for alcohol- price increases won't really affect people's appetite for it.

Meanwhile sensible drinkers are punished for the misbehaviour of others.

Some in the pub trade and independent off-licences will claim that imposing a minimum retail price for booze would be a good move as it would make them more competitive against the big chains. This is a completely separate argument, one which is based purely on protectionism and false pricing. It doesn't relate at all to the wellbeing of the drinking public.

If the Assembly or anyone else wants to tackle the very real problem of excess alcohol consumption, they need to do so through education. Hiking up prices is just a lazy cop-out and will do precious little to solve the problem of alcohol abuse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think they need a combination of things to tackle this growing problem - price rises yes - if you don't have the money then it is a deterrent - but also it starts at home and the attitude to drink - so parents need to be educated as well and need to know that their kids learn by example