Thursday 16 May 2019

Hello unintended consequences, my old friend

Last October, Australia's Northern Territory introduced minimum pricing for alcohol because - according to one 'public health' academic - "evidence shows this works to reduce harm". This measure came on top of the Banned Drinker Register which was introduced in September 2017 and forbids certain individuals from buying alcohol.

Imagine my surprise when I heard that these policies have had perverse consequences which require yet more government action...

Buying mouthwash could soon require photo ID in the Northern Territory.

As the sale of alcohol becomes more restricted across the region, welfare groups said people are turning to easier-to-reach sources — like vanilla essence and cleaning products.

In the last three months they say these sales have spiked, with one person reportedly buying 21 litres of methylated spirits in a fortnight.

This is going well!

The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) — an organisation formed in 2002 to stop petrol sniffing — said it noticed a spike in the sale of methylated spirits after reports from local retailers and the Alice Springs Town Council.

The organisation's Blair MacFarland said the council reported a higher number of empty methylated spirit bottles being found on council parks and ovals.

Whoops! There's only one thing to do and that's form a new committee...

.. reports of an increase in the consumption of mouthwash and cooking essences have led to the formation of a new working group, made up of NGOs and the NT Health Department.

The group met for the first time in Darwin earlier this year, after community groups began noticing the trend at the end of 2018.

I wonder what happened in late 2018 that could have sparked a sudden interest in surrogate alcohol? Oh yeah. That.

NT Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said earlier this year that restricting access to alcohol through the BDR in Adelaide River had created a situation where people were spending more of their income on alcohol and less on food and essentials.

Yes, that's what happens. 

He also said it may have been a factor in commercial break-ins and youth crime, which has been on the rise.

Oh well, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. But where's the omelette?

Dr John Boffa of the People's Alcohol Action Coalition (who happens to be the aforementioned academic) said...

"The introduction for the minimal unit price in Darwin, coupled with the Banned Drinker Register, both of these measures are very effective and very targeted at the heaviest drinkers."

"We've seen that in Alice. We took action. It was very effective."

Image result for naked gun nothing to see here

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