Monday 20 November 2017

The rich won't notice, alcoholics won't care

Garreth Morgan

The clink of glasses is ingrained in our collective psyche, from our Christening to our funeral.

And for some, that lifelong connection with booze can be the problem.

I have been on the receiving end of random street violence. Stuck in A&E until 4am, the scene resembling a macabre after-party with drunks staggering into nurses.

However, just like the boisterous drunk, minimum pricing is a blunt instrument. It will hit everyone, whether they deserve it or not.

But for problem drinkers, price is unlikely to be a deterrent. For them, it is the next drink that matters.

If price was the key issue, would we see so many bars hiking prices as the night goes on, knowing that as the drink goes in, the wit goes out?

Critics say we have a culture of cheap booze; visit France, Spain or Portugal and you will see that it's not really that cheap here at all.

But the Continentals rarely drink themselves stupid.

This minimum pricing proposal is also regressive. To the well-off, it will merely be an annoyance. It will hugely affect prices at the lower end.

But alcoholism is not snobbish about who it affects.

This kind of nanny-state mentality recalls the time limits set on alcohol sales, particularly the ridiculous 12.30pm limit on Sundays.

Has this changed my consumption patterns? No, I don't really want beer on my cornflakes, thanks.

However, it has forced me to abandon Sunday morning trips to the supermarket, because I am prohibited from getting a bottle of wine for the following Friday night.

But at least when I go to church on Sunday morning, I get served a drink.

Finally, minimum pricing won't save our struggling pub trade. It won't make pub drinks any cheaper, that's for sure. However, it'll probably give a great boost to border supermarkets and booze cruises.

And it will make everyone that little bit poorer, so they have even less money to spend in the pub.

Irish Independent

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