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Question Of The Day

What Would Change If They Introduced a Minimum Price for Alcohol?

"Everyone will just smoke weed."

by Alon Aviram
13 March 2013, 4:56pm

People with the power to do so have been harping on for ages about upping the price of alcohol, thereby saving the country's ailing pub trade and completely regenerating broken Britain overnight. Just today, in fact, David Cameron again declared that he will "deal with" the cheap alcohol being sold in English and Welsh supermarkets. But talk is talk, and that's all it seems like it's going to be for now, so we thought we'd join in the discussion by asking some people we'd never met before what they think. London, what would change if they introduced a minimum price for alcohol? 

Ian, retired after 25 years at Jack Daniels: While I was working in the trade, the one question I always asked was: has anyone found out why people are binge drinking to the extent they are now? The issue is do you have the information to back up whether making alcohol more expensive would make a difference?

What factors do you think encourage excessive drinking?
I think there needs to be a cultural shift, it’s not necessarily to do with the price. Because all the pre-loading goes on with cheaper booze, so it's not stopping anyone from going out. So I’m not sure that minimum pricing is the answer, but I haven’t got the answer as to what cultural shift you’d need to get things changed.  

Ali, unemployed: Supermarkets and the government will make more money, but things would change for the better – there'd be less alcohol problems. I was drinking on the bench here last week and I saw more than 30 drunk people just here. People drink too much, man.

Do you have personal issues with alcohol?
Yeah, I’ve got alcohol problems. I’ve been drinking for 17 years. I lost my job, my flat, everything because of drinking, now I live in a hostel. You see this cider? It’s a poison, it’s not a normal drink.

Do you think it would have been good for you if alcohol had been more expensive than it was 17 years ago?
Yeah, it might have been. If I could have only afforded two pints instead of four, say, then that would have been good. The higher the price, the less people are going to drink.

Ian, barman: Personally, I don't think it’s going to put people off alcohol. And if it does, they’ll take drugs, like in America. I’m from LA and people under 21 aren’t legally allowed to drink alcohol, so they all just smoke marijuana. Like everyone else all over the world.

Do you think raising the price of alcohol could reduce binge drinking?
I just think that not being able to drink alcohol leads people to other places.

Nico, artist: Not much would change. I mean, if they were to make a pint cost £20, then things would obviously change. But what’s more likely to happen is you’ll get more contraband. You can see that with tobacco, for example. It’s very expensive, but if you’re looking around you can get stuff underhand for cheaper.

So you think a black market for alcohol might emerge if there was a price hike?
Yeah, exactly. Just like with tobacco, people would get drink cheaper and illegally.

Previously - Whose Personal Details Would You Like Access to?

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