naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
In the news recently: minimum pricing for alcohol. I find I don't have a useful opinion, anyone want to help me form one.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 01:46 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Price per unit = buy the cheap, nasty & strong stuff.
Increased prices = sucks to be poor, and you can't even afford to get drunk to forget now.
Increased price of booze = heroin is now cheaper.

Basically, good intentions but unintended consequences.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 04:49 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
I worry that it is a bad idea, because it will basically just mean drinking is more expensive for poor people and the most addicted will just deprive their families of (more) money to continue supporting their habit. That said, some Scottish people I know and generally think are sensible support it.

I do think we should wait to collect evidence from the Scottish parliament's experiment on this before doing it in the rest of the UK.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 06:44 pm (UTC)
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
From: [personal profile] liv
All my liberal instincts reject it, it seems like it's punishing the poor for being poor, and I don't like the state manipulating prices anyway. But FWIW one of the consultants who teaches our students is a really strong advocate for minimum pricing; he argues, with stats, that alcohol in England and Wales is cheap to a point that it's anomalous among economically comparable countries, and compared to any other point in history.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 09:18 pm (UTC)
reddragdiva: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddragdiva
[personal profile] arkady and I are discovering just how bloody cheap homebrewing drinkable mead actually is. Amazing what you can get for a bit of labour and patience (which is why homebrewers are rare and therefore tolerated).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-29 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] antinomy.livejournal.com
I note only that, without exception, the people advocating it would never dream of drinking wine that cost less than a tenner (that's generous, tbh, probably twenty quid) a bottle anyway.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 07:57 am (UTC)
ext_20852: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alitalf.livejournal.com
That was my thought. It is more aimed at the "little" people. Being one of that sector of the population, I wish they'd quit, but maybe it will reduce excessive drinking, and if so it might be a good thing on balance.

If it turns out to enforce an increase in supermarket profits while not making much difference to the people who drink far more than is good for them, will it be changed? I doubt it.

I think that the people most likely to reduce the amount they drink are those NOT dependent on it, those who are less likely to drink dangerous amounts in any case.

Hmm, I wonder if this will be included in the inflation figures, which have always seemed to be lower than actual price increases for as long as I have lived, whatever government was in power.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-29 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
Making things more expensive really does change behaviour; if we want people to drink less, minimum pricing for very cheap alcohol will probably have the desired outcome.

However, making alcohol more expensive will put extra pressure on alcoholics, which could lead to theft / crime. And a flat minimum pricing rate disproportionately punishes the poor while not impacting on the alcohol drunk by the rich at all.

So I think I'm probably in favour of more tax on alcohol, but not a crude minimum price cap. I haven't thought about it very hard though.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 08:23 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Yeah - people who drink for fun will drink less, people who are addicted will simply eat less, or steal.

And I agree on the tax thing. If we're raising prices, why hand the difference to the supermarkets?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ptc24.livejournal.com
I remember reading something somewhere that said that not only did price rises cause some addicts to beat their habits, that news of impending price rises causes it too. So, for nonalcoholics, they hear about a new tax that's about to be implemented in three month's time, grumble, forget about it, in three months time they say "crikey, booze is getting a bit pricey" and decide maybe to give it a miss this time. For alcoholics, according to what I read, they hear about the tax, shudder in fear at how expensive it's going to be, and say "I'd better work on getting dry now so I don't get stung by this".

Of course, I'd like to see real evidence before believing this (and know how widespread the effects are - if a policy causes 1 in 1000 alcoholics to quit and the other 999 to suffer hardship, then that's not a good thing on balance).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 08:53 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I'd be very happy to hear that was actually the case.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pavanne.livejournal.com
I don't think it's really aimed at the hopelessly addicted though - my non-professional understanding of the health issues surrounding alcohol is that it's long-term dangerous in much smaller quantities than is short-term noticeable. I know I could drink twice the NHS definition of binge drinking every night of the week just for fun, and would if I wasn't worried about the increased long term health risks.

So maybe if you get a percentage of people to drink 22 units a week rather than 25, you do really improve the health of the population via lower cancers, high blood pressure, etc.

I'm not sure I really approve, especially as many other people have said, it's clearly aimed at people who drink the very cheapest booze rather than the tippling middle classes, and handing the profit to the supermarket just sounds wrong. But it could actually work to prevent some early deaths in people we wouldn't think of as alcoholics.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
I think it will have knock-on effects up the price chain - after all if the nasty cheap wine is now 5 quid a bottle the basically decent wine will have to go up to more than that or risk being confused with the nasty wine...

That or they could stop selling nasty cheap wine altogether; but I doubt they'll do that.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
I don't think doubling the cost of a bottle of gin is really going to put me off having gin occasionally; you'd have to increase the price of booze by an order of magnitude to push it out of my "luxury food items" budget really.

Maybe people with a lot less money than me are much more price sensitive; I'm not usually in favour of trying to price people out of doing naughty things though - it's a bit like selling indulgences I guess.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-29 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com
It seems like not a terrible idea to consider, but whenever I hear specifics I always get the impression that it's one of those things that sounds good, but ends up being paternalistic, ineffective, and with lots of unfortunate side effects. Unfortunately, I can't remember the specifics.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] passage.livejournal.com
Speaking as someone who works for a supermarket, I think government enforced cartels are excellent. "You mean we have to take these excessive profits, by law? And nobody is allowed to compete with us? :-)"

The statistics that it will reduce problem drinking and alcohol related crime do seem pretty strong however.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 07:15 am (UTC)
fanf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fanf
I quite like the argument from the head of Wetherspoons that it would be better to make the tax regime less unequal between on and off licenses, which would put pubs at less of a disadvantage and return cash to the government instead of the supermarkets.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 08:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] requiem-17-23.livejournal.com
I like this point.

If beer is £3 a pint in a pub, why is it not £2 a can in a supermarket? They talk about pre-loading - drinking cheap-ass drink before going out - as a problem. A nice market-based attempt at a solution that might well also help our struggling pubs would be to move tax from on- to off-licences. Makes too-cheap booze less cheap and too-expensive booze less expensive.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 11:06 am (UTC)
fanf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fanf
In his own words:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/nov/04/alcohol-minimum-price-health-debate

"[Minimum pricing is] nuts," he says. "It is obfuscation by trying to pretend that the government is dealing with the issue. All that will happen from a pub's point of view is that the tax inequality [when compared with supermarkets] will remain. Tax equality between pubs and supermarkets would be much more effective than minimum pricing. [Minimum pricing] is a placebo that won't have any effect on the underlying problem. It's utter bollocks, basically. If you want people to pay more for their beer, there is one solution: get them to go to pubs. The problem with Cameron and Osborne is they haven't worked in a fucking pub."

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 11:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tigerfort.livejournal.com
I'm tempted to correct his final sentence by abbreviation:
"The problem with Cameron and Osborne is they haven't worked"

Granted it's not the only problem with them, but if either one had ever needed to hold down a proper job in order to keep a roof overhead it might have removed a few of their more aggravating delusions.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 08:48 am (UTC)
ext_8103: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ewx.livejournal.com
Presumably supermarkets sell very cheap alcohol because it's profitable to do so; as such if a minimum pricing policy were to lead to increased supermarket profits, rather than reduced sales, then as such the policy would have failed.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 10:20 am (UTC)
ext_52479: (window seat)
From: [identity profile] nickys.livejournal.com
I'd be in favour of a redistribution of tax. The additives and suchlike in cheap lager make it worse for people's health overall, as well as being bad for the environment so how about cutting tax on traditionally brewed, organic and fairtrade beverages and increasing it on the stuff with more chemicals in?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 10:21 am (UTC)
ext_52479: (window seat)
From: [identity profile] nickys.livejournal.com
... like the emissions tax on cars - the rate of tax depends on the amount of damage a thing does.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 10:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ptc24.livejournal.com
I remember a dinner-table conversation about this a while back with my family. As I recall, at first we seemed to be against the idea, but then we thought of people we knew who had had battles with alcoholism, and ended up feeling more positive about it. Then again, White Lightning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lightning_%28cider%29) was a particular culprit that we had in mind, and that's been discontinued, so maybe self-regulation by the alcohol industry can do something. OTOOH, maybe the alcohol industry only self-regulates when it feels itself under pressure.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanelwa.livejournal.com
There are a lot of similar products on sale still :/

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 12:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanelwa.livejournal.com
If it moves some serious alcoholics off super-strength cider, that's a good thing. They have more time between the start of addiction and eventual death and that means they have more opportunity to try and get out of it.

I also hope it will make 18-25 age bracket decide to stop drinking earlier in the night, and have fewer of them end up in A&E with alcohol poisoning. From conversations I hear on the tram this seems not entirely unrealistic.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
Will it though? I mean, are these people price-sensitive with alcohol? or will they give up other things in order to afford the now more costly drink?

For instance the rising price of petrol results in a lot of people moaning about the cost of petrol - has it resulted though in more people cycling, walking, taking the bus? (I really don't know)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] requiem-17-23.livejournal.com
It did result in me buying a more efficient car.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-30 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanelwa.livejournal.com
Yes, I think they are.

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