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Alcohol regulation? Really Dave?

While Janus, the God had two faces, one to look into the future and one to look into the past, it seems our political leader also has two faces but not quite in the same way!

Prime Minister David Cameron, one time director of pub chain Tiger Tiger, bars not renown for their sobriety, has recently said he wants to tackle the scourge of binge drinking.

When he became Tory leader he stood down from his £28,000 a year post and presumably sold his £40,000 share holding.

Looks like he gained some scruples in the process.

Now he wants to bring in widely discredited US style 'drunk tanks', and look to put a minimum price on a unit of alcohol.

The latter, by the way, will mean you won't be able to sell standard strength beer for less than £1.25 a pint!

And when, I ask you, was the last time you got a decent pint for that?

It will, of course, stop supermarkets selling rocket fuel cider.

Then there is the age old question, "What is a unit* of alcohol?" And what is the amount you can safely drink? What about those who say one glass of red wine a day is good for you? Why are we still being bombarded by mixed messages?

But everyone recognises that the problem with binge drinking and alcohol fuelled disorder is two fold.

Yes, there is a price aspect but there is evidence that people will give up other things rather than booze or they simply step down to cheaper brands.

But for me the main problem is how and when alcohol is sold.

The problem of drinks promotions, both in supermarkets and in bars and clubs, is not regulated by law. Instead we have the drinks industry self regulating itself.

You may see on drinks adverts a small logo pointing you to the 'drinkaware' website, an organisation that claims it is an independent charity if, indeed, you can be independent when you rely on the drinks industry for your finance!

Then there is the wonderfully named Portman Group who are a trade organisation who claim to self regulate.

Yeah, and the moon is made of cheese.

Where is there any real regulation of bars that do cheap alcohol deals for students in and around Botchergate in Carlisle?

There is a law that says licensees must ensure they do not serve anyone who is drunk.

If that was widely observed we would have significantly less drunks fighting and vomiting on our streets in the wee small hours.

Then there are those, admittedly, small minority of off licences who persist in selling drinks to kids.

When are we going to introduce a one strike and you are out system for those?

No, we need to bring in proper regulation on price of drinks, to stop promotions that encourage binge drinking and reguation to prevent alcohol being marketed as almost a soft drink, blended with sweet fruits, which encourage youngsters to start to drink.

Everyone should be allowed to drink responsibly and those who can't need to be banned from every pub, bar and club in the country.

Drinks prices in supermarkets need to be either substantially raised or off sales to be controlled much more tightly - state control? - to prevent the binge drinking and over indulgence simply being transferred to the living room.

And a start would be to reduce the times when alcohol can be sold.... Oh sorry, forgot, the anti binge drinking Prime Minsiter's Government has announced an extra hour of drinking for the Queen's Jubilee.

So, trebles all round for Her Majesty and let's all get plastered!

* A unit of alcohol is defined as 10ml of pure alcohol. There... does that help!


By Ashley Tiffen
Published: February 27, 2012


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