The minimum price of socialising

As night follows day, so alcohol follows tobacco.

Government to clamp down on sale of cheap drink.

Bans on advertising and sponsorship?  Warning labels?  Restriction on sales?  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I have been giving the subject a little thought.  The first thing that crossed my mind is that tobacco and alcohol are completely different ballgames.  Smoking tends to be a solo occupation, in that it is the decision by one person to light up and that's that.  When did anyone agree to meet his or her mates for a night of cigarettes?  Alcohol on the other hand tends to be far more of a social occasion, and the solo drinker tends to be in a small minority.

What is the significance of solo versus social?  Quite a lot.  When two or more people meet for a drink, cost is not a significant factor.  No one wants to be seen as tight fisted so when it comes to buying a round, people will complain inwardly but will still fork up the cash.  It will be a case of whether a person values friendship over a few extra pence from the purse.  Socialising is a very important aspect of life so people are prepared to pay the price, and are hardly going to forgo it because of a few "warning labels".

Another aspect of alcohol over tobacco is that alcohol is a mood altering substance.  It tends to diminish inhibitions so that after a glass or two, people just aren't going to worry about price.  Likewise I can imagine that by that stage those "warning labels" are going to become items of ridicule rather than a harbinger of doom.

Alcohol is a good thing.  It has health benefits and is central to the social life of many.  People are well aware of the problems that alcohol can cause – alcoholism, violence, binge drinking and so on.  Adding a few pence to the price of drink will have no impact whatsoever on those problems.  Equally any warning labels are going to be ignored, just as smokers ignore the shrill meaningless images on their packs.  The alcoholic is hardly likely to go on the wagon because of price, and the idea of going sober because of a few "warning labels" is ludicrous.

Minimum pricing will not work.  And while the gubmint will doubtless torture statistics to "prove" that it has, they will start introducing extra measures.  Plain packaging?  Heavy restriction on outlets?  And of course heavy tax and excise increases way above inflation levels, all designed "for the good of our health".

None of the proposed measures will have any affect whatsoever [apart from giving drinkers a taste of what us smokers have had to put up with].

If the gubmint wants to tackle binge drinking and alcohol abuse, instead of nannying and bullying people they should spend some time addressing the cause of these.  Why do people drink so much [not that they do, but the gubmint thinks they do]?  Could it be that they just want to escape for a brief while from the burden of everyday lives?  Do they just want to forget for a while about the bills, the heavy mortgage and the ever increasing taxes?  Have they had enough of the mess that successive gubmints have landed on their shoulders?


It's easier to nag.

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The minimum price of socialising — 18 Comments


    I live in Norway. Alcohol is expensive, taxes are sky high, access is limited, spirits can only be purchased by those over 23 and warning labels are routine. Result: Norwegians are piss heads.

  2. Tbh im conflicted on alcohol if it was banned outright i wouldnt consider it a bad thing it tends to hurt alot of people for a long time apart from historical president of course proveing it wouldnt work ..

    • It does indeed hurt a lot of people, and is the cause of extreme misery.  However, that is a minority issue and in general the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  Banning a substance because it adversely affects a few is wrong in my book.  They should find a way to treat the small minority without punishing the vast majority.

  3. They were going to try that here. I bet you fifty pence that the cost of the bottle of wine Cameron no doubt enjoys with his dinner would not have been affected in the slightest, but my bottle of cheap plonk would have been considerably more than it is now. How is it that wine is very cheap in Italy, (the only other country I have much experience of, apart from Eire) and yet nobody seems to drink to excess or drink and drive although everybody drinks. On the subject fo smoking there though, I was out to dinner with my Italian lawyer and at about 9 o'clock, everybody lit up. He explained to me that in Italy "The law is only advisory". They seem to apply this maxim to things like the rules of the road and paying taxes as well, which I expect is why I like them so much!

    • "Laws are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men".  [Douglas Bader, I believe]

      As I said, the solution is to discover why people drink the way they do.  Alcohol has been part of most cultures for hundreds if not thousands of years so why is there suddenly a problem now?  They'd be better off looking into that little conundrum.

  4. If the gubmint 'bans' the sale of 'cheap drink' I am sure the poteen makers in the hills of Wicklow, Kerry and South-East Donegal will work hard to meet the increased demand for their valuable product made from Kerr Pinks, Golden Wonder, King Edward and other stalwart varieties of potatoes. And then some cutehoor civil servant will suggest that the Minister for Finance impose a high tax on homegrown spuds.

    • Now would be a good time to go into production of "home brew" kits?  I still have the old barrel and worm out the back so all I need are a few spuds.

  5. I'm tight fisted and proud of it!  People are going to drink no matter what the price.  It's like a locked door.  Just because it's locked doesn't mean someone want break the lock and enter, if they choose to do so.  All they are going to do is increase the sales of black market alcohol.  I'm sure those in the biz are loving this.  🙂

    • People are more likely to try to enter a locked door than an open one – simple human nature. 

      No doubt the black market in booze will flourish just as it has with cigarettes.  Will they ever learn?

  6. Bring it on. The quicker the pain becomes unbearable the greater the numbers folks will say "fuck this" and walls will tumble, blinkers will drop, eyes will be opened and fuck this will be the sound of the world.

    • Bang on!  Let them attack salt and sugar as well, not to mention fat.  By that stage they will be hitting 99% of the population and sparks will begin to fly.

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