Less drink… October 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy.
The SBP had a piece on how the Cabinet is to look at new laws designed to minimise alcohol usage. Some of these are sensible, very sensible. Here’s the list from the SBP.
• impose a minimum price on alcohol;
• impose a 9pm watershed before which television advertisements would be banned;
• prohibit cinema advertising of alcoholic drinks except for films with an 18 certificate;
• require the physical separation of alcoholic drinks from other products in retail premises;
• require health advice to be displayed on bottles;
• require the alcohol content and the number of calories to be displayed on bottle; and
• propose the elimination of sponsorship by drinks companies of sports and other events.
Already, though, as the SBP notes, the recommendation on sponsorship is being ‘referred to a working group set up under the leadership of the Dept. of the Taoiseach’. Will that sink like a stone? We shall see. Astounding to me that alcohol advertising is allowed pre the watershed.
But it seems to me that far too much of this is at the wrong side of the consumption process. For example, those of us who like to drink less on occasion, and I’m in no sense painting myself as a saint in these matters but I do like to go easy more often than not, would probably like to see non-alcoholic beverages more widely available and – crucially – significantly cheaper than they currently are. And how about encouraging the sale of mid and low alcohol drinks as well? It’s been noticeable to me that off licenses are finally making more lower alcohol beers available, generally imports from the UK (those being 3.5% and lower in volume). This is a good, actually a necessary, counterweight to the trend for higher volume beers also coming into the market. Guinness has launched it’s mid-range stout, which is actually reasonably good, but nowhere near as widely available as it could be. And for those times when no alcohol is better but the prospect of endless cups of tea isn’t great either how about a wider range of alcohol free beers? But there’s a caveat. There’s little pleasure in getting a pint of alcohol-free beer that costs an arm and a leg.
It seems to me that without that sort of push as well all the measures above won’t functionally change drinking habits and shift people to accepting lower and no-alcohol drinks as a central part of that experience.