Will taxation prevent binge-drinking?
So today David Cameron decided to announced that the Tories would place a thumping old tax on alcopops, high-volume beer and cider which they believe, in their infinite levels of wisdom and knowing about youth culture, fuel anti-social behaviour. The flaws behind any legislation attempting to prevent teenagers from drinking are instantly apparent by the people suggesting and making them but this one really is misguided.
I used to work with a large number of younger-than-me folk of the ‘binge drinking’ generation and their tipple of choice was far from a Smirnoff Ice or WKD. They may well have used these for a warm up drink but there is no set rule as to what they will drink. People of this age and predilection have no discerning taste as to what gets them drunk. They, like constant streams of generations before them, get drunk for the sake of getting drunk. They have no desire or care as what takes them on the journey but are concerned that they get there, forget everything that’s going on and never have to think about idiots like Cameron or Brown until morning.
Importantly here, there is no set pattern or palate kids have for drinking. They will drink anything at all that gets them drunk. They don’t have set routine of congregating before going out, drinking alcopops and beers and then heading out to cause some problems. They’ll drink wine, beer, spirits, sherry, port, anything. Doesn’t matter. To tax alcopops and cider will just harm the business of the makers, causing yet more issues in the UK economy. Either that, or the things being targeted start out so cheap that a rise in price won’t harm consumption levels and Cameron will be sat looking like the ignorant wannabe youth-doyen he really is.
If you want to stop binge-drinking of the type he is aiming for, you need to a) create a perfect world for us all to live in or b) try and find the reasons why they are drinking rather than just preventing it happen. Why do these kids in the far reaches of the UK get drunk and then act anti-socially? Well first off, it’s because alcohol has that chemical reaction with some people, oh so many adults included. It’s more likely because of the sense of disenfranchisement they feel living in their respective towns. I myself have felt the pangs of getting out of relatively small cities and moving to the major metropolis areas of Britain. I moved to London because it’s constrictive and boring in small town England and need the noise, the ideas, the hustle and bustle of big city life. Whether these kids need that or not, that’s what the hyper-ambitious government want for all kids. They seem to want everyone in Britain to become the absolute best they can be, to become a high-paid, high-flying professional contributing to the economic or cultural display of the UK. But not everyone can do this. The pressure on kids to succeed and to move away from their roots is enormous. Maybe, just maybe, kids are drinking for the same reason that so many borderline alcoholics do, because they feel disappointed and let down by their lives.
Maybe Dave, it’s time for you to actually begin understanding youth culture instead of spouting off rhetoric on what’s wrong with it from your concrete tower in Westminster.
Children under-eight binge-drinking – Daily Mail
Binge-drinking epidemic – BBC News
Tories call for end on cut-rate booze – BBC News