Increasing alcohol prices will only make “pre-loading” more appealing
I’d imagine David Cameron would have had more than five pints of lager on a night out with his Bullingdon Club friends while at university. Drinking more than five pints, by the way, is deemed ‘binge drinking.’
In his Alcohol Strategy foreword, he says: “This strategy sets out how we will attack it from every angle…And that means coming down hard on cheap alcohol.” He’s changed.
Obviously price would never have been a concern for our Prime Minister, but for young people all over the country, the alcohol strategy will be significant financially.
Now of course the government should do everything it can to tackle alcoholism, drink-fuelled violence and consumption to evade despair. But as far as 18-25s and their weekends are concerned, this is one socio-demographic these measures will bypass. Attempting to curtail student drinking for example, is a thankless task; nothing plausible can stop three years of necessary frivolity, in my opinion.
The strategy document seems wholly focused on tackling drunk and disorderly behaviour, violence and the cost to the NHS as a result of our society’s drinking culture. That’s a good thing; it is a needless drain on resources, statistically costing the taxpayer around £120 every year. It includes:
“Piloting innovative sobriety schemes to challenge alcohol-related offending,” and “Providing effective treatment and recovery to help those who need routes out of dependency.”
But when discussing the plans, the home secretary seems far more concerned with attempting to dissuade young people across the land from over-indulging while going out on the town. If she’s merely window dressing the strategy, and her underlying position is to end the destructive nature of alcohol dependency, so be it; if she’s more focused on preventing young people having more than one or two doubles at the weekend, she’ll probably be disappointed with failure.
Instilling a minimum price per unit is not going to remove a culture engrained within our society. The government can look to resolve the embedded social instabilities within Britain, just as long as it realises these price increases aren’t going to stop teenagers and those in their early twenties exceeding recommendations.
The plans revolve around a key factor: the 40p minimum per unit. This, according to the Home Secretary, is to stop the “pre-loading” before going out. It would be better if she actually got the term right, it’s ‘pre-drinking’ Theresa; or indeed ‘pre-lash’ if it’s a big one.
Does she really think that raising the cost of supermarket alcohol will stop young people from enjoying some strong cider or cheap rum, before painting the town red? Well it won’t, because it will still be a whole lot cheaper than paying bar prices. That’s the idea, to save money.
The reactions on Twitter highlight this:
@GabbieSamra “Theresa May says we get drunk before we get into town. Well duh! We can’t afford drink prices in the city and the cab fair home!”
@wegotblankets “Theresa May has made K Cider the classy premium beverage I always argued it was.”
With young people, it is undeniably more a matter of cost, than health. I bet David Cameron didn’t think about his liver while he was a student; I’m sure many middle-aged established workers all over Britain were the same.
Too, alcohol consumption is not class-specific in terms of young people getting drunk. Think about 35-year-old unemployed Gary, drinking eight cans of Special Brew a day, or 38-year-old lawyer Susan getting home late and gallivanting through a bottle and a half of Viogner.
With the under 25s though, there is no differentiation between those who wear Jack Wills and go out in Mayfair, and those who prefer wearing Lyle and Scott in Oceana. They all get drunk, they all get cheesy chips, and none will drink less in line with Theresa’s nannying.
Speaking to students at Nottingham Trent University, Ewan Colinese, 21, told me: “The increased prices will still be considerably cheaper than the prices of drinks in bars or clubs. If anything it may cause people to drink more before going out as they will have less money to spend on alcohol once they’re out.”
Josh Rowbotham, 21, having apparently already planned his reaction to the increases, simply stated: “I think people will just move away from cheap cider to wines. I don’t think it will change the amount consumed at all.” Indeed, any clever student would just stock up and bulk buy with wines and spirits unaffected by the change.
All these rises are going to do in terms of us younger generations, is annoy. The government needs to address those in need, and by all means should carry on. But if it wants to stop students and young people from having a few drinks at home before hitting expensive bars and clubs it certainly won’t help by increasing their annual spend by £105-135 a year.Tagged in: alcohol, binge drinking, budget, george osborne, health, Health Secretary, pre-load, theresa may
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