Yesterday the Scottish government proposed the figure of 45 pence the minimum price per unit of alcohol. If approved, this measure will affect everyone, casual and social drinkers and those with an alcohol problem.
Is paying more for our alcoholic drinks something we want? From an individual perspective, it is not nice to have to pay more for something considered enjoyable and relaxing. Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is complex. Excessive drinking is socially acceptable within our society and connected with fun and having a “good night out”. However, excessive drinking comes at a cost and we are all paying for collateral damage connected to excessive drinking.
The Scottish Parliamentary Labour Group published yesterday The Report of the Alcohol Commission. The report is an interesting read. For starters, it stresses the need for a national strategy for action on alcohol because there are no magic bullets or quick fix solutions for changing the culture of Scottish drinking. Aye to that.
The writers of the Labour report are not convinced that simply hiking the price of booze will deal by itself with the alcohol problem. Moreover, they argue that it has not been done anywhere else in the world. Maybe not, but let me ask you a question. If money is tight all around, is it rocket science to assume that people will buy less alcohol, simply because it is dearer ? Alcohol is not an essential food item.
Minimum pricing is not about making drinking democratically available to all sectors of society. It is one of many possible steps to be taken to reduce alcohol consumption overall. Taking that step does not preclude a strategy with many other policies attached.
As a society, are we not willing to pay more for a drink if this cuts the alcohol related street-violence, car accidents, domestic situations and increases the overall health of our nation? I trust the answer is AYE!