Booze Britain? No, we’re drinking less
Give a journalist a set of statistics and they will choose those which best suit the slant of their story, this is particularly true when it comes to ‘24 hours drinking’ and drinking trends in England and Wales.
I’m not underestimating the effect of alcohol on certain parts of society or the harm it can cause when misused and I am not trying to ignore the impact of alcohol related crime and disorder. As an operator of late night venues in the past, a trainer / consultant for the sector and a Purple Flag Assessor, I see all these problems first hand.
But statistics don’t lie and the actual consumption of alcohol has not dramatically increased overall, even if there have been some changes in drinking habits.
In my opinion there is a more destructive element in what and how people drink on a ‘big night out’; certainly ‘Binge Drinking’ has had a negative impact on town centres. But the concept of ‘Binge Drinking’ is still more of a tabloid headline, than a concept recognised in law; however it can’t be denied.
So if it is the case that it is the nature of drinking and the associated behaviour which has changed rather than the overall quantity consumed, why are we so focussed on putting measures into place to reduce consumption?
It is an argument I seem to be making over and over and the more information we get the more my point of view seems to be confirmed. The strategy to reduce the problems related to alcohol must be more considered than simple prohibition.
I am actually in favour of the Licensing Act; has it been perfect? Certainly not; but I feel that has more to do with enforcement than the Act itself. We must realise that the problems associated with alcohol which concern so many have been developing over a generation. This makes them a cultural problem and anything which has become engrained in our ‘culture’, takes a generation to change.
If any government thinks they can make a fundamental change with a few tweaks of the Licensing Act, minimum pricing etc, then they are going to be disappointed. The problem with politicians is they have to make an impact within 5 years, even just the most recent problems with alcohol have been developing for a 100 years…
The solution is education, responsible alcohol retailing being enforced and allowing people to make sensible choices based on sensible regulation.
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Source – Independent
Date – 27th February 2010