Scotland is about to introduce a minimum price based on a unit of alcohol which is intended to stop problem drinking, I don’t think this will work and I also think it will hurt people already getting battered for no other reason than they are born poor.
I’ll get the intended target out of the way first, the white lighting drinkers. White cider is grim, it’s cheap and it’s very strong, and it’s often the drink of choice for both young drinkers in parks and seasoned booze hounds.
For a mere £3.50 you can get 3 litres of the stuff, these ciders range from 7% to 9% but under the new laws a 3 litre bottle of this shit will cost you a whopping 11 pounds and some change, so that’s fucked, no one in Scotland will drink this, and good, because it’s shit.
Scotland’s other danger drink won’t be effected by this new law, Buckfast is already over the 50p per unit price tariff so A&E will still see loads of Buckie related mayhem.
Those with alcohol addiction problems will now reach for other no less lethal products, the reason many of them will drink the white ciders is because it is easy to drink, now they’ll just neck a bottle of vodka mixed with some juice at first to get from sober to wasted in as quick a time as possible, I guess it might kill them a bit quicker, especially as we’ll no doubt see dodgy bootleg stuff hitting the black market and trust me, I’ve seen people drinking the hand wash my hospital, I’ve seen people drinking aftershave, desperate people will drink anything.
Teen drinkers will move on to Buckfast, vodka and those awful Hooch drinks, a few quid more but it will stop next to nothing and those who can’t afford will just steal it anyway.
Now let’s look at some price increases.
Lambrini 150cl will rise from between £2.50 and £3 to a minimum of £5.65
A cheap 37.5% vodka, gin or rum will rise from as low as £10 to a minimum of £13
A budget whisky will now go from £11 to £14
A twenty pack case of lager will rise from between £13-14 to £18ish
And the cheapest wine at 12% will be £4.50.
Not massive rises but when you’re on a tight which thousands are this small increase will put it out of their reach or they will sacrifice something else to get their weekend tipple.
What Scotland and the rest of the UK needs to do is have a hard look at the reasons people drink so much.
Scotland has, we can all admit, a terrible relationship with drink, go through any scheme and you see loads of off sales and pubs with bars over the windows, why? Well one answer is that it’s a good way to keep people in their place, keep people intoxicated and they won’t cause much of a fuss, I mean they might stab their best mate over a minor disagreement but that’s a small price to pay, right?
So people in poor areas are surrounded by opportunities to ruin themselves, and when you’re knackered after a hard day of work or maybe your benefit hasn’t appeared or whatever so you drown your sorrows, you stick a few quid on a horse or you have a couple of pints, pints which are now even more expensive than they were.
Mental health also plays a part here, many people struggle with sleeping so they drink to sleep, many people suffer with depression and even though alcohol is a depressive and will make people worse many drink to calm down.
Same with anxiety, or worried about the bills? People drink to forget.
There are also people who drink to shut out the voices in their heads.
But let’s not look at these problems, let’s not work on bringing people out of poverty and using education to raise awareness about mental health and drinking, let’s just stick a few quid on a bottle of cider and hope for the best, it’s a cheap, sticking plaster approach and it won’t work.
I’d guess most people in Scotland start drinking in their teens and then take one of two paths, either a problem and heavy drinker or a sensible and heavy drinker, I know I jest here but I know people who don’t think drinking two bottles of wine every night constitutes a problem and that is where the real problems lie.