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back to article Health pros: Alcohol is EVIL – raise its price, ban its ads

A broad coalition of UK health organizations has released a report detailing the evils of demon rum (and whisky, vodka, brandy, gin, lager, ale, wine, et al.), and calling for a series of government actions to suppress its use, including sharply increased pricing and a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorships. "In developing …

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WTF?

This all sounds quite familiar somehow. Wasn't this sort of thing tried before, and failed dismally?

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Pint

More than once, and it always fails.

The last was the Indians of the Canadian Northwest, total ban, strict penalties, and what they got was a new brew that was easily homemade, and could be drank "green", since it kept fermenting in the digestive system.

Seriously, trying to ban something that's easier to make than bread is always going to fail.

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Yeah but repealing this kind of B.S. is the one thing which made Roosevelt popular.

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Anonymous Coward

Say WHAT, bro?

The "one thing" that made Roosevelt popular?

Hmmm ... establishing social programs that provided a safety net to the vast majority of American citizens, providing a system that enabled elder folks to not find their lives twirling down the fiscal toilet, and helping to end the Great Depression?

Hmmm... Small change there, eh?

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Re: Say WHAT, bro?

Funny, I thought it was his leadership in helping the Allies win WW II that was most responsible for his lasting popularity. If the war hadn't happened, that other stuff wouldn't have him remember any more fondly than Johnson has been for Medicare.

It's open to debate whether what he did really ended the Great Depression, or if it was the ultra massive stimulus program we know as WW II that finally did so. Oh, and it didn't hurt that by the end of it our industrial base was the only one that hadn't been bombed to rubble! For some of the world the Great Depression lasted a lot longer than it did here.

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FAIL

No it wasn't. There's a world of difference between prohibition and minimum pricing/advertisement restrictions.

50p a unit is hardly going to lead to an epidemic of stills being set up. All it'll do is reduce the amount of overly cheap booze - £1 a pint, £5 a bottle of wine, £15 a bottle of vodka, 0.75p a bottle of alcopops.

It is a bit of an over-reaction to compare that to prohibition!

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@Rocket888

Exactly, at first I thought what a terrible idea, and this is going to punish everyone who can control themselves/drink modestly. But 50p per unit is going to do nothing to the majority of the country who enjoy a 2/3 unit pint which already costs at least £3.50+

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Go

"Wasn't this sort of thing tried before, and failed dismally?"

No.

What you think the article is describing is called prohibition.

What it's actually saying is ban the advertising

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Happy

""Yeah but repealing this kind of B.S. is the one thing which made Roosevelt popular.

I think his mass employment programmes might have had something to do with it as well.

BTW the article is not about prohibition.

RTA

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Anonymous Coward

@Rocket888. Putting up the price of the cheapest bottle of wine by £2 may seem nothing to you or a GP on 100k but to people on low incomes its a massive increase. Politicians, doctors and some commentators here should think of other people not measure everything by their personal circumstances.

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slightly harder

I'd say home brewing was slightly harder than home baking. Or at least it take longer and is more effort.

But in both cases, oh so very worth it.

But yes, using all-grain recipes I can brew for anywhere from 50p to £1 / pint depending on the level of extravagence of ingredients (American hops are pricey).

But on the other hand, if people were brewing their own this might be a better thing to do than drinking cheap larger irrespective of alcohol content.

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Re: @Rocket888

"Exactly, at first I thought what a terrible idea, and this is going to punish everyone who can control themselves/drink modestly. But 50p per unit is going to do nothing to the majority of the country who enjoy a 2/3 unit pint which already costs at least £3.50+"

That's because you haven't thought it through. Let's take wine as an example. Currently there are, broadly speaking, three types of wine in supermarkets: cheap crap; OK stuff; expensive stuff. The price of the cheap crap is currently about £3.50/bottle. OK stuff is a few pounds more, expensive stuff is a few pounds more than that. This price differential will still exist even if the bottom stuff is £4.50, so everyone pays £1/bottle more.

The exact same thing will happen to all other forms of alcohol. It's clear.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

Oh dear - poor little alcoholic AC can't live without his daily bottle/s of wine... poor diddums.

Or maybe - realize that if you can't cope without something alcoholic sloshing around in your system you have a problem.

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Re: @Rocket888

Thing is, if you start raising the price of the cheap stuff too high, you might as well be prohibiting it because you're pricing it out of range of low-income blue-collar workers: historically known for drinking. The same thing happens when you try to alter behaviour with punitive excise taxes. You just encourage underground brewing and so on. Alcohol is legal in the US but regulated, so there is still a market for the infamous moonshine.

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Mushroom

@JohnSmith19

"What it's actually saying is ban the advertising"

That's only the start. You cannot stop bansturbators by saying "it's only a ban on advertising". Once they've got that they will progress on to the next step. They never stop until they have the cold hard facts that their actions are actually leading to more deaths (the US poisoned neat alcohol so that it couldn't be used to make drinking alcohol - leading to a number of deaths) and that the vast majority of the population don't agree with their minority views that are very extreme to the point of fascism.

You have to stop such nannying fussbuckets at their first attempt. Otherwise welcome to a world where someone else decides what is good for you and you can not make any decisions about your own life.

Already some are wanting to stop giving health care to the obese or smokers because that is what led to their health problems. Whats to say that such people will not decide that extreme sports fanatics should not be given any medical help if they have an accident.

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@John Smith 19

Yeah - just like smoking. First a few restrictions then a concerted social engineering effort to make social drinking unacceptable, then have the BBC news publishing anti-drinking stories or theories involving drink consumption in accidents, etc., etc. When drinking is finally banned or severly restricted, start work on the obese and then on fishing and anything else that distracts from the gloom of this miserable country. Some people just like inflicting misery on others. Now the church isn't so effective, they use the health service.

Sip, sip - ahh - that's better.

Phil.

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@John Smith 19

What the article is *actually* saying is that these "health" wowsers and killjoys want to BOTH "ban the advertising" AND "put the minimum price up to 50p a unit".

Now a typical bottle of decent wine is about 11 units. Do the math... this would mean NO wine can be sold under £5.50 a bottle. That's substantially more than the cheapest wine you can get in a supermarket now.

So the cheapest wines will go up to at least £5.50 a bottle, and all the others in proportion. Do you really think merchants will pass on an opportunity to increase all their prices by 25% or so, and if anyone complains say "The government made us do it"?

If so, I have a bridge to sell you.

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Re: @Rocket888

Why will the differential be maintained? Isn't it much more likely that the cheap crap will just be sold to other markets? Otherwise sales of all grades will reduce.

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WTF?

Why penalise sensible drinkers?

We don't drink much, and as you say, we usually spend more that 50p a unit anyway. But there is also a certain amount of fun in making drinks like sloe gin, and for that all you really need is a handful of sloes, a bit of sugar and a £10 bottle of gin.

Why would you want to make it £5 more expensive to make a bottle of sloe gin for Christmas?

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I can see your point if you see drinking as a human right and not a luxury like other hobbies.

Beer drinkers are unaffected (apart from Special Brew...) and a wine drinker needs to reduce their consumption by 30% to spend the same (£3.50 - £5.50)

I do feel sorry for the sloe gin makers though.

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Boffin

Re: @John Smith 19

What your analysis does not include is the fact that the alcoholic strength of both beer and wine have increased in the last couple of decades. I remember when wine was 10-11% ABV (most are now 12-13%) and when Old Speckled Hen (5% ABV) really was a strong ale. What a minimum price per unit will do is reduce the strength of wine and beer in order to keep the price reasonable.

People do not generally drink according to strength they drink according to volume. Which is why the increases in strength are a problem. If you have not changed the amount you drink your consumption of alcohol will still have increased.

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Pint

I think they are thinking about other people.

I hate to come across as a po-faced misery guts, but it's a bit hard to argue with the points made:

Millions of fuckwits getting tanked up on cheap booze is a problem in the UK

(please god dont let me have a heart attack just after chucking out time on a saturday night - i'll never survive a visit to A&E)

There are enormous costs to our society resulting from widespread abuse of alcohol. It's hard to argue that those costs shouldn't be met by the sales of the stuff in the first place.

I drive a car, and have to pay taxes to ameliorate the impact of my car on the rest of society.

I smoke cigarettes and have to pay for the increased use of the health service that that will inevitably entail.

If our emergency services are at full stretch every Saturday night because so many people are getting wasted and getting themselves into various sorts of trouble, then that needs paying for.

apart from anything else - I have a good job, and anything that reduces the queues at the bar is a good idea in my book :-D (oops i kinda fucked that up didnt I)

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Re: @JohnSmith19

"the US poisoned neat alcohol so that it couldn't be used to make drinking alcohol - leading to a number of deaths"

but lets be fair, i dont think we lost a cure for cancer, or any significant insight into the higgs in that lot :-)

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Re: Say WHAT, bro?

No I think you are confused dear Sir; Those were the bad things he did.

Weather or not this made him "popular" is another question.

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Big Brother

First they came for the Pricing 'cause it was soo affordable to drink. I didn't speak out.

Then they came after the Adds 'Cause joe Camel makes Children want to Smoke Cigarettes, and again I said nothing.

Then they decided on some sunny Day that they should go after the Alcohol 'cause its SOOO EVIL!!! But, by then it was already too late...

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Pint

Re: @Rocket888

Plus the fact that Anheuser Busch makes of that oh so fine a Brew (ALL WHO THE HELL AM I KIDDING?!), Budweiser (Not to be confused by the FAR SUPERIOR Czech version!), is the nastiest Beer ever devised by man. The fact that they are also watering down their crap from an already pitifully low 3.2% by vol. Its no wonder the proverbial is currently hitting their Fan,

All proper Beer should have at lest 5% by vol. preferably more like 8-10% by vol...

Now to kick back this Doppelbock.

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Joke

Re: @JohnSmith19

But, (no) thanks to Osamba-care, and Mayor Blomberg of New York, you can no longer purchase a flippen Big gulp any more 'cause those sugar laden Soft-drinks will give ya Diabetes and possibly the AIDS (!!/jk on the latter!!

So who says we DON'T already live in their Nany-state, where *they* know whats best for you!

Joke alert 'cause AIDS...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @JohnSmith19

Yeah, but also we have companies pushing those things, that they know very well are the main cause of Type II adult-onset diabetes ... you could regard this as an anti-nanny that is qute prepared to knowingly kill you, (using clever advertising and so on) as long as you can pay them and give them nice juicy profits.

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Absolutely

There is no reason why a good wine should ever be more than 12%

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Happy

Yes this could cause the cost of my training and career as an alcoholic to rise....

Leaving me in drunken debt for ever.

Noo the 10 - 15% of the population that is "ADDICT", should be given preferential pricing and a license to practice, and buckets of high quality booze, at wholesale prices.

They also should be given a side show style of bumper car, with a top speed of 5Kmh.....

That is a good use of the Google car... when your so drunk your in a paralytic stupor... then it toodles along under voice command...

"Isafukncahn shalooknat fukncahn....." which translates to "Go to the Vinchenzo Vineyards, and when we get there order a box of 1788 Chateau Du Guzzle, which I will drink from the bottle - make haste yonder charriot, I feel the DT's coming on."

The pharmacutical companies should also be given a hand up here, to get and keep as much of the population legally stoned out of their minds as possible.....

They are good at that.

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Re: Say WHAT, bro?

The social programs even Cordell Hull admitted with dismal failures and Social Security (based on the notion most folks would be busily deceased by 65...not unreasonable in the 1930's) is in its death spiral. Roosevelt didn't so much end the Great Depression as much as Hirohito and WWII - a particularly horrid, if effective, way to end a depression.

After all, nothing drives full employment like a life or death military struggle that demands 100% utilization of resources to produce war materials that will largely be swiftly destroyed and require replacement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @JohnSmith19

For reasons I do not know, I am on the list of people that certain famous pollsters call. I am also a person randomly chosen to participate in a multi-year study of population attitudes and opinions on various matters (which judging by the questions seems to be funded by the government!).

The point. I live in a country with universal health care coverage.

There is a question in the survey that asks, "Do you agree that health coverage for should be denied for smokers?" (I can't remember the precise words, but this was the question - I made them repeat it so I was sure I understood.

1: The "first attempt" passed when we allowed government funded universal health care. Governments now have a reason and the power to restrict any behaviour they may deem "unhealthy", which, for the uninformed is also known as "living".

2: Governments which provide universal health care are already testing the waters as to how soon they can start restricting what we can and cannot do.

3: Two units of alcohol a day has more positive health effects than negative

It's only going to get worse. The "bansturbators" (I do hope that word makes it to the OED, it's brilliant), are in charge already and everything will eventually be banned. At which time democracy and freedom will be but boot notes in the history of failed humanity.

AC, sorry.

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Headmaster

Re: Say WHAT, bro?

I doubt the weather has aided the popularity of any sitting politician. It might have aided in the elction of one in Denmark some years ago, where amongst his campaign promises was "tailwinds on bicycle paths" (and yes, he was elected to parliament).

Whether this is all relevant, depends on whether you wish to know what weather is or whether you don't give a toss.

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@naughtyhorse

As far as I can see, the riffraff getting tanked up and out of control on Friday nights aren't doing it on cheap booze,but on whatever is the currently fashionable, over-priced premium branded lager. They are already paying four quid a pint, and the marginal impact on them is limited.

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Facepalm

"Yeah but repealing this kind of B.S. is the one thing which made Roosevelt popular." The 'one' thing? Really? There's this little thing called History. Perhaps you should avail yourself. It's in books, you know.

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Re: @Rocket888

"Why will the differential be maintained? Isn't it much more likely that the cheap crap will just be sold to other markets? Otherwise sales of all grades will reduce."

I gather basic economics is just not your strong suit, is it?

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Re: Absolutely

"There is no reason why a good wine should ever be more than 12%"

I take it that you are just not really all that familiar with 'good' wine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC not everyone NEEDS a drink many just ENJOY a drink...

You have no idea AC, it is not the person who needs a bottle a day... its the pensioner who has very little disposable income, and maybe enjoys a bottle of wine with dinner on a sunday as a treat that will be punished!

Personally I never buy anything that is as cheap as 50p a unit, i spend £6-£10 an average bottle of wine for dinner, i spend £1.50/bottle on the beer I buy.. .the only time I bother with cheap deals is when I am having a party and must get some lager in for the average guest who prefers that kind of thing

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Say WHAT, bro?

Be more accurate to say "Instituted policies and regulations that significantly prolonged the depression for Americans". The myths about Roosevelt's "New Deal" are widespread and pernicious.

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Mushroom

Re: Say WHAT, bro?

Ah, doctors trying to set policy again. Or rather a subset of doctors hailing from the old temperance movements trying to set policy. Maybe they should run for political office instead of being a doctor if that's what they wish to do.

Failing that they could fuck off.

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Holmes

Re: Say WHAT, bro?

> helping to end the Great Depression

Been brainwashed by Krugman, buddy? It often helps to believe in the tooth fairy, indeed.

Seriously, the "Great Depression" was made great BECAUSE of Roosie. Played the Keynesian and Control Economist for about 10 years with no improvement in sight - normal, considering his earlier admiration for the command economy of Mussolini's Italy. Then WWII came and he didn't have to justify himself. For this to happen, he trolled Japanese and Germans relentlessly, hoping for a "first shot", which came to no-one's surprise. Popped his clogs just before his 4th term (fraudulently obtained, as much as the 3rd), after having secured the votes of the Poles, the country of whom he had already secretly sold to Stalin. Buried in a mausoleum prepared a bit earlier at taxpayer's expense.

A right dirtbag he was.

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Headmaster

Re: @John Smith 19

@Tom Welsh: I love it when people say "do the maths..."

A bottle of wine contains 750 ml of liquid. A unit of alcohol is defined as 10 ml of alcohol. So to get 11 units in a bottle, you're talking about wine that's 14.5% ABV. I submit that if you're drinking "the cheapest wine you can get in a supermarket" and it's 14.5% ABV, your liver and stomach are in a world of trouble.

A more typical strength, particularly for cheap plonk, would be 11%, making for 8 units per bottle. Some wines are significantly lower (and none the worse for that - part of our current problem is that there's a tendency towards making beer and wine stronger - but that's basically for fashion's sake, there's no taste-based reason for it).

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Re: @Rocket888

You obviously haven't sampled the likes of Iron City Beer, Lone Star, or Old Milwaukee.

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Pint

Re: @AC

Interesting you had so many down votes. I drink in moderation (enjoy it most of the time) but other than that I find it very problematic for humanity which needs arresting / addressing - quickly.

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Happy

@Naughtyhorse

"apart from anything else - I have a good job, and anything that reduces the queues at the bar is a good idea in my book :-D (oops i kinda fucked that up didnt I)"

Anyone who thinks this sort of drinking is being done in pubs or bars is sorely mistaken.

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Re: @John Smith 19

Actually, I said "Do the math" because it's an American expression. "Do the maths" just sounds silly.

As for the percentages, it's a fair cop. I exaggerated the strength of typical wines, not because I wanted to distort the facts, but because I usually assume a bottle of wine is 10-11 units when calculating how much I and others can safely drink per week. I suppose I have built in a small safety factor.

In fact, most of the wine we drink is 11-12.5% alcohol by volume. 11% would give each bottle 8.25 units (not 8 as you said - see how slippery a slope this is?) while 12.5% is equivalent to 9.375 units per bottle. So £4.15 and and £4.69 respectively, rather than the £5.50 I stated.

However, this downward revision of the minimum prices makes virtually no difference at all to the strength of my argument, as you can buy perfectly drinkable wine for £4.50 a bottle today.

And, of course, my liver and stomach are a matter for me (and possibly my doctor). You don't need to worry about them, although of course I appreciate your solicitous concern.

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Go

Re: Absolutely

There is no reason why a good wine should ever be more than 12%

Just because you don't appreciate port, old bean,...

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Re: @JohnSmith19

Sorry, but I call bullsh*t. The errosion of liberties is a gradual thing because it is not a concerted effort to hoodwink a whole population. The fact that we actual have more personal liberty than 100 years ago always seems to be forgotten (not that I would ever defend any attempt to attack the liberties we have).

No one becomes a politician to further some grand conspiracy; be that the death of democracy you speak of, or the immigration and social cleansing the older generation warn me about.

Governments are inept and pass laws almost by random; legislation is almost always a reaction to some current situation or change in public opinion. They are pandering to what they believe the masses want, in order to secure their next vote. Occassionally they'll create a short political play in which they propose something horrible in order to pass something less horrible, but if their schemes are planned more than six months in advance, I would be utterly shocked.

In this particular case, a bunch of doctors/physicians are lobbying to reduce public health problems from alcohol. Even if they have a hidden agenda, historically it has always been shown that reducing the public's alcohol intake produces a less docile populace, so what could they hope to gain from it?

Personally, I can't see any reason to be upset by the advertising ban. Some of the adverts are amusing, most are boring, and people drink what they want to drink anyway. I've never heard anyone order a "SoCo", no matter how (cringingly) hard Southern Comfort tried to push that phrase.

But if they touch my ale, they'll be hell to pay.

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Re: @AC

Get lost

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Pint

Ho ho ho

With Samichlaus beer, every day is like Christmas.

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