Wednesday 28 June 2017

Minimum pricing for alcohol is a dumb move

THE DRINKING CLASSES: Using the price of alcohol as a means of supressing demand is not such a simple notion
THE DRINKING CLASSES: Using the price of alcohol as a means of supressing demand is not such a simple notion
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Balancing the freedom of individuals with the interests of society can be tricky, if and when the two clash.

Where to draw the line when the State gets involved in the private lives of citizens? Should it try to curb people's bad behaviour for their own good, or should it accept that true freedom includes the freedom for informed and consenting adults to do as they please, even when that means that they harm themselves?

This is relevant as legislation to impose minimum prices for alcohol winds its way towards the statute book - Health Minister Leo Varadkar is scheduled to publish a bill to bring this into force in July. The issue has been made more topical still by the publication of a typically excellent report by the Paris-based think tank, the OECD, on harmful alcohol consumption earlier this month*.

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