When I first started drinking the poison, the weekend used to start on a Thursday night. The local boozer would have a band or disco and it would be full to the rafters. The productivity in the valleys factories on a Friday morning must have been woeful. Friday night would be the same, as would Saturday. On Sunday we would play football and sneak into the pub for a lock-in so we could watch the football on the box (there was no afternoon drinking on Sundays back then). Then after 10-pints we would go home have a roast dinner, a kip and then back out in the night for another 10-pints. Productivity levels on Monday morning were just as bad as Friday’s. I guess we don’t get much work done in the valleys.
Then something changed. As we got older we stopped going to the pub and instead would get wrecked in the house. Taking a trip down memory lane my first assumption was that we were just getting older. But then I realised if that was the case the pubs would be full of younger folk. But they aren’t, and instead the pub trade in the valleys seems to be dying on its arse. Then the obviousness of it hit me. It has everything to do with cost. The price of a pint is just so much more expensive than the ‘£10 for 3 bottles of wine’ offer down the corner shop.
When you are dealing with addicts a price hike isn’t really going to make a difference. Addicts will find a way to feed their addiction somehow. So when the government were driving up prices in the pubs, the addicts were heading to the supermarkets and corner shops to get their fill. This is where ‘binge drinking’ started. People would get smashed in their homes before heading to the clubs in the night. The girls were filling their handbags with miniature bottles of vodka. People were getting off their faces quicker than ever before.
It’s nice to see that the government are trying to do something about the current epidemic that Britain’s streets are facing, as it moves into the shops – and the supermarkets – by introducing a 45p minimum price per unit, in an attempt to stop the loss leader style marketing ploys that pull more people into their shops.
“Most major retailers believe minimum pricing and controls on promotions are unfair to most customers. They simply penalise the vast majority, who are perfectly responsible drinkers, while doing nothing to reduce irresponsible drinking.” Said Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium.
The claims by the likes of Opie are laughable to the extreme; inauthenticity at its very best. The retailers only care about profit. They are not concerned about their customers drop in intake. They are only concerned about how that intake affects the bottom line. And by the way, there is no such thing as a responsible drinker. Anybody who puts poison inside his or her bodies for no apparent reason is anything but responsible.
The government doesn’t really do itself any favours though. It sets idiotic precedents with its ‘sensible drinking for adults’ schemes. Schemes that are now being pushed right back into their faces by retailers who are adamant that it is the sensible drinkers who are being penalised. Like a broken record I will again say there is no such thing as a sensible drinker. There is also no such thing as sensible guidelines when it comes to drinking. Just look at the statistics that are being used to promote the 45p scheme.
- A 45p minimum would reduce the consumption of alcohol by 4.3%, leading to 2,000 fewer deaths and 66,000 hospital admissions after 10-years.
- The number of crimes will drop by 24,000 per year.
- Instances of alcohol related violence and hospital admissions total one million per year.
What is sensible about drinking? How can drinking be responsible if it leads to that amount of destruction? Can you remember the outcry when the youngsters started dying after taking ecstasy in the 1990s? Those deaths ran nowhere near these numbers and yet you don’t even hear a pin drop.
Today, I am sitting down and gently applauding the government for attempting to support health campaigners in their fight against this terrible drug addiction that has taken over the world. If they want me to stand up and applaud, then stop teaching my son Welsh and Religious Education, and instead teach him to understand that drinking alcohol produces no benefits and a lot of destruction. That’s how you solve your issue. Change the way our children think. Create a better future by fighting the root cause, which is the societal conditioning that we have all been afflicted by.
But until that happens, I for one will settle for a 45p minimum price per unit.
What is your opinion?
Photo courtesy of Studiobaker (CC $ flickr.com)