Monday, September 12, 2005

It's not the pub opening hours that are a problem, it's the price of alcohol!

Like so many of New Labours ideas, this one was half baked. Tony Blair thought he could solve the problem of binge drinking by extending opening hours of pubs. But as many now seem to accept, the Brits will just down their eleven pints in four hours instead of three. When you're that drunk, an hour or two of extra drinking time isn't going to change anything! As the debate on binge drinking continues, no-one seems to have mentioned the most obvious solution, raising the price of alcohol.

The current epedemic is fuelled partly by a binge drinking culture, partly by a lack of self-control (that Brits seem to excel at), and partly by the fact that alcohol in real terms is cheaper than it used to be. The drinks industry has shamelessly exploited all of this to maximise their profits. Unfortunately, if neither the drinks industry nor drinkers are able to excercise self-restraint, the Government needs to do it for them.

If people want to drink all hours, let them, but let them pay for it. If drinkers had to pay £5 for a pint of beer, or for a shot of spirits, they would think twice before ordering several rounds for themselves and their friends. And it shouldn't stop there. The drinks industry should pay a windfall tax on their profits. In much the same way as the tobacco industry have had to pay for the damage they've done to smokers health, it's about time time the drinks industry were made to pay for the havoc they have helped to wreak on town centres week in, week out.

And if people think all of this is unfair, maybe they should visit their local A&E department (or local police station) any Friday night. As alcohol related violence and alcohol related diseases continue to rise, someone has to foot the bill, it's only fair that those who drink the most should pay the most.