Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Slip of the tongue?

Last week, a new report was published by the Royal College of Physicians on the subject of drinking and sexually transmitted diseases. The conclusions weren't very interesting (there's a link between the two, would you believe?!), but one sentence stood out...

As already noted, there is good evidence that health promotion interventions at a societal level (such as increasing the unit price of alcohol) are more effective than health education messages directed at adolescents.

An interesting choice of words in the parentheses there, as we don't currently price alcohol by the unit. (No country does, so from whence does this "good evidence" come?) We can hardly increase the unit price when we don't charge by the unit.

Slip of the tongue? Perhaps the RCP expected minimum pricing to be law by the time their report came out. Or perhaps they were just getting ahead of themselves.

Either way, if those moral imbeciles in Westminster do give minimum pricing the green light, you can expect to see the words "increasing the unit price of alcohol" in every document from Alcohol Concern, the RCP and the BMA for years to come. Once that Pandora's Box is open, the demands for the unit price to rise will be endless and unforgiving.


Ivan D said...

There is of course no chance that minimum pricing at the levels proposed will have much effect on anything except supermarket profits, taxpayers’ pockets and government coffers. The theory is utterly ridiculous as is the “overwhelming” evidence that supports it.

This extract from a BBC article featuring an interview with Petra Meier, the “Professor” behind the Sheffield papers sums up the arrogance, naivety and utter stupidity that typifies modern public health thinking:

“A 50p limit should cut alcohol consumption among moderate drinkers by about 3.5%, or half a unit for women and two-thirds of a unit for men.

Although this may not sound much, the researchers say it equates to big health gains with time.
It would slash rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Their calculations show a 50p limit would mean 2,900 fewer premature deaths a year as well as 41,000 fewer cases of chronic illness.

It would also mean 8,000 fewer injuries each year, 92,000 fewer hospital admissions per year and a saving to the healthcare system in England of £270 million each year.”


Only a fantasist could believe that any of this would happen in real life or someone with a hidden agenda of course. Petra Meier is a Scientific Advisor to The Institute of Alcohol Studies which is funded by Alliance House.

I am not sure who funds the glorified pressure group that is the Royal College of Physicians but I do wish that they would stop doing it.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Just sit back, make your own wine and beer and find the resulting chaos amusing: weekly explosions in industrial units; ferry traffic rocketing; homebrew shops in every small town; children poisoned by illicit spirits. Someone must have pointed all this out to David Cameron and so its unlikely to happen.

Jonathan Bagley said...

s/b "it's".

Rex Mundi said...

It would be much cheaper to enforce minimum standars of hygiene in British hospitals and save tens of thousands of lives. Tens of thousands! But, this is not about saving lives, is it? :)

Dan said...

Minimum pricing of alcohol is merely US-style prohibition on a small scale. That was a policy disaster, since it increased the profit margins on a very easily-produced product by a couple of orders of magnitude, and this was back in the days before industrial processes could be miniaturised to the extent that they are now.

Consider this: In Scotland, Buckfast Tonic Wine (a vile concoction of alcohol, sugar and caffeine) is the tipple of choice for the discerning yob; it gets you drunk, provides you with fuel and the caffeine even counters the sedative effects of alcohol. Genuine Buckie is fairly cheap, but a counterfeit could easily be produced using a syrup to flavour and caffeinate industrial ethanol diluted in local tap water.

Tap water is free. Bottles and labels are cheap, industrial ethanol is quite cheap (the taste would be disguised by the syrup) and bottling plants are similarly easily obtained. It would be the work of only a week or so to build a plant to produce shedloads of dirt-cheap Buckfast substitute, then sell crates of this muck on to locals to sell out of the backs of cars. It could even be given a slightly higher alcohol and caffeine content to give it an edge over the normal product to boost sales, despite being cheap synthetic rubbish.

The trick to profiting in such a situation is to produce a just good enough product very cheaply, then sell cheap to idiots. Someone will do just that to take advantage of Government stupidity, they always do.