Will a minimum 40p per alcohol unit cure binge drinking?
It’s Friday night, I’m preparing for a big night out. I pop to the shops, top up my alcohol cabinet and get ready to hit the town. Will the 40p unit price proposal really stop this kind of behaviour and sober up Britain?
You’ll likely to have seen headlines that the government is set to charge a minimum alcohol unit price of 40p. The move is hoped to reduce binge drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The government claims the 40p a unit minimum price could result in 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 9,000 fewer alcohol related deaths over the next decade. In fact, reports in the Guardian say this move could add £135 to the annual bill of a heavy drinker.
Do you think higher prices will help any of the UK’s drink-related social problems, or will it just be another price rise for consumers to cope with this year?
Preloading alcoholic drinks
We’ve hosted similar alcohol discussions on Which? Conversation in the past. Last year the government proposed minimum alcohol prices suggesting a 400ml can of lager couldn’t be sold for less that 38p and a bottle of wine for no less than £2.03.
Commenter M Richards wasn’t sure whether last year’s minimum alcohol prices would solve the issue and proposed more extreme measures:
‘People intent on getting drunk will in the main not be deterred by the modest price changes. I would introduce hospital charges for people who need treatment and are drunk, and a high fine for anyone drunk committing a violent offence.’
And Ken Milne thinks the issue has deeper roots:
‘Over reaction to binge drinking is causing other problems when perhaps we should find out why there is a need to binge drink in the first place.’
Some sobering thoughts
And although the government believes responsible drinkers will be unaffected by the changes, commenter Chris Gloucestershire is worried that they will:
‘I strongly disagree with this approach to combat binge drinking. By increasing the price of booze the government is penalising everyone for the actions of a minority. That simply isn’t fair, worse still it treats everyone with equal contempt.
‘Binge drinking is a British social problem. On the continent booze is much cheaper and they don’t seem to have this problem to any significant degree.’
At today’s suggested 40p a unit, a weak can of lager (3.6% alcohol) would cost at least 80p and a bottle of wine (12.5% alcohol) would be £3.75.
Do you think such alcohol price increases would stop binge drinkers from hitting the bottle?
And if you’re wondering, my Friday is more likely to involve a small glass of sauvignon blanc, in my PJs, tucked up in front of the TV. There’ll be no ‘drunken mayhem’ in my flat tonight (fingers crossed).
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