Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Booze Police
Did you know my loyal readers that this is "alcohol awareness week"?
No, I didn't know that either, until I by chance came across this wee note (see below) in the Times yesterday.
Speaking personally I don't need any of Nanny's minions to remind me about alcohol, but it is very kind of them to do so!
Regarding the note written by the venerable doctors, I would make a few of observations:
1 They are seriously out of touch, regarding dictating prices that would lead to a £1.50 pint; when was a pint last £1.50?
2 Normal people do not drink gallons of ultra cheap cider. To punish the normal population for the actions of a desperate, sad minority is simply not right.
3 Physician heal thyself: "Although the physical health of doctors compares favourably with that of the general population, they have an increased prevalence of alcohol and drug problems and a higher suicide rate.
Data from the U.S.A. indicate that approximately 10% of physicians become dependent on psychoactive drugs or alcohol at some time during their careers. Dynamic influences in their upbringing, pressure of work and ready access to drugs may all predispose to drug or alcohol misuse."
Source Alcohol and drug use and related problems in the medical profession
I also noted in another media organ that there is a "growing campaign for minimum alcohol prices"...errrmmm...no there isn't! This is merely a media invention to give the media something to write about.
Anyhoo, in order to celebrate "alcohol awareness week" I will be consuming a veritable smorgasbord of alcohol, I recommend that you do the same (feel free to buy some using the excellent links on this site).
Sherry enemas all round!
Here is the letter from the doctors, as per The Times:
As Directors of Public Health in the North West, we believe that the time has come for effective action to stop the irresponsible sale of cut-price alcohol by the off-trade. We welcome the Government's recent proposals to introduce a mandatory code for alcohol retailers and believe that this should be implemented at the earliest opportunity to address increased alcohol consumption and health harm in the UK. However, we also urge the Government to take further decisive action by bringing forward legislation to introduce a minimum price per unit for alcohol of 50p per unit.
None of us comes to this policy solution easily. However, despite considerable investment in the NHS and public health messages, a new Licensing Act and efforts by the industry itself, HMRC figures show that the overall consumption of alcohol continues to rise, as measured by volume of alcohol sold. Hospital admissions due to alcohol harm have risen by 64 per cent in the North West in the past five years. Apart from the implications for public health of this situation, we believe that the cost to the NHS in the North West of £400 million per year is simply unsustainable.
Of course, personal responsibility must continue to be part of our collective focus in tackling alcohol consumption, but it is naive for any of us to think it can be the sole focus. Alcohol is sufficiently price elastic for the aggressive price-cutting we have seen in recent years to affect individual consumption. It follows, as Sheffield University has shown, that raising the price of the cheapest alcohol sold would affect overall consumption and would target effectively the consumption of those that drink above moderate levels.
We know that the Government has argued that it does not wish to penalise moderate drinkers. Neither do we. A unit price of 50p means £1.50 for a pint in the pub or £4.50 for a bottle of wine in the supermarket. Is this really too much to pay to save 3,393 lives per year, to cut crimes by 45,800 and save the country £1 billion every year in alcohol-related costs?
We urge the Government to act quickly and decisively. The political leadership that was shown on smoking in public places needs to be shown on alcohol too. As with smoking, the politicians that take a lead in combating alcohol harm may find that they command the public’s respect and support as a result.
Dr Arif Rajpura
Dr Diana Forrest
Professor John Ashton
Dr Julie Higgins
Dr Abdul Razzaq
Halton and St Helens PCT
Dr Frank Atherton
North Lancashire PCT
Dr Stephen Watkins
Dr Rita Robertson
Tameside and Glossop PCT
Dr Kate Ardern
Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT
Dr Sheila Will
Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale PCT
Dr Peter Elton
Dr Ellis Friedman
East Lancashire PCT
Central Lancashire PCT
Dr Heather Grimbaldeston
Central and Eastern Cheshire PCT"
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