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October 28, 2006

More Government Intervention: It's Good For You!

Last week UK regulators announced that they intend to put health warning labels on wine.

The powers that be seem to feel that the masses of binge drinkers that fill the pubs and streets of the UK on weekend nights will suddenly put down their glasses if they realize that drinking to excess is bad for your health.

The UK binge drinking phenomenon is a product of fundamental social problems. It is not due to the broad availability of alcohol. Warnings and ever increasing taxes will not remedy the problem. It will not cure the breakdown of the nuclear family or the fact that in the UK, public drunkenness is socially acceptable.

Cigarette smokers and drug abusers prove that people are happy to trade off a bit of hard-to-perceive ill health for some narcissistic self indulgence. A better message would be for the government to use respected members of popular culture to communicate: Only losers stagger down the street senselessly drunk. If the government advertised that alcohol causes impotence (like the cigarette folks did in the US), then maybe a few of the mostly young male offenders would start to listen.

Visit Italy, France, Spain. Public drunkenness is not the problem that it is in the UK, primarily because it is socially unacceptable. Change the acceptability in the UK and the problem takes care of itself.

BTW- UK industry folk, don't worry, "health warnings" have been required on US labels for years and it has had no negative effect on the business. In fact all of the "wine is good for your health" buzz was generated after warnings were put on the labels.

Posted by Jason at October 28, 2006 2:12 PM

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Comments

In fact the single biggest cause of antisocial behaviour in the UK is our draconian attitude to alcohol. By "placing it out of reach" until 18 we encourage our children to abuse alcohol and treat it irresponsably. If you look at europe as a whole, the countries with the biggest alcohol abuse issues are the ones with the strongest controls on alcohol - Sweden,UK, Finland, Iceland etc. Those countries like France and Spain where children often drink diluted wine with their meals have much lower incidences of problems relating to alcohol consumption. So some daft label on a bottle warning that alcohol is bad for you is going to have absolutely no effect whatsoever. I find it strange that the UK government seems hellbend on stopping people from drinking and smoking when it relies so heavily on the taxes and duties raised from alcohol and tobacco. Bizarre.

Posted by: garry clark at October 31, 2006 6:09 PM

Right On Garry! Politicians obviously placating some special interest group... But, I have a feeling that somehow they will come up with a replacement tax after they have legislated away drinking and smoking.

Posted by: Jason at October 31, 2006 6:43 PM

Can some people deal with alcohol and other drugs better than others? WBR LeoP

Posted by: Leo at January 19, 2007 9:04 PM

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