Scotland’s 50p alcohol tax: Battling health with money
Scotland has elevated far beyond Theresa May’s 40p proclamation then, with an impetus to enforce a minimum 50p per unit levy on alcohol prices. Nicola Sturgeon’s arguments are less annoying than Theresa’s at least; if we were to hear yet another tirade of ‘pre-loading’ nonsense I fear for my health for entirely different reasons.
This time round however, the plans appear to be directed at the older and well established alcoholism. There has been very little mention of that diabolical term ‘binge drinking.’ Thank goodness.
As I argued previously, when I wrote about Theresa May’s ludicrous booze musings, these prices will not deter the youth of today from enjoying a hard session of drinking prior to a night’s revelry.
This time, there has been a greater emphasis on those suffering liver complaints, and prisoners who claim to have been drunk when they committed their offences. These plans seem to be aimed at alcoholics. And according to information, Scotland has even more alcohol related deaths than we do.
It’s unsurprising that there is a direct correlation between alcoholism and depression. Depression, in our beauteous world, has a fair bit to do with financial situation quite a lot of the time, funnily enough. So surely, if people are going to be forcibly out of pocket – because let’s face it, they’re still going to drink –they’re going to be even more depressed than before. But shouldn’t we be helping alcoholics, rather than punishing them? No? May as well have another pint then.
Fine, that’s all pretty sweeping. But if someone is addicted to alcohol, for whatever reason, they’re going to drink. Whether that’s a bottle of cheap wine or a four pack of strong lager, an extra five pounds might cause a fuss at the checkout, but they’re not going to go without a few litres of happiness for the sake of their smallest note.
Is the reversal of affordability really going to counterbalance a culture built on booze? Sheffield University’s statistics certainly point that way. But they seem pretty speculative to me . It simply assumes ‘harmful’ drinkers will suddenly stop their instinctive habits for the sake of a few quid.
Of course, there is no doubt these problems need addressing. And fine, the very poorest in society might, in the most extreme circumstances, have to go without an extra few cans during the week. But the additional cost to ‘harmful users’ is predicted to be around £120 a year. To people who really, really like drinking, that cost can be addressed.
Cut out the fish and chips on a Friday, buy cheaper cigarettes, stay at home drinking instead of going to the pub – all ways to carry on the habits without decrementing the lifestyle too much. We are in times of austerity, after all. But what else is there to do? As defeatist as it is, it seems the most tangible of options.
Our lands, both Scottish and English, have a love so deep for the besotted drug that is drink. And so indeed the government has to do something, and it appears this is it; battle health directly with money. It’s a bribe, or in carrot terms, an incentive.
There has been less discussion about student drinking this time round. And that’s good as it’s far more applicable to need. But really, those who love alcohol, and have loved it for many years, will not stay away. They’ll pay the extra.
To so many, beer is as important in life as a loaf of bread. This issue runs far deeper than BOGOF deals and Value vodka – sorry, ‘Everyday Value’ – this issue is cemented deep within. On an island where for some, drinking is close to a religion, it’s going to take a bit more than an eradication of the cheapest prices to convert the faithful.Tagged in: 40p tax, alcohol tax, alcoholism, binge drinking, booze, depression, drinking, liver, Nicola Sturgeon, pre-loading, Scotland, theresa may
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