Friday 22 May 2020

Prohibition and the pandemic

Governments around the world have been gold-plating their lockdowns with prohibition. I've written about it for Spiked...

Here are some fun statistics for you. Last month, a quarter of the world’s population lived under alcohol prohibition. More than a fifth lived in a country where the sale of cigarettes was illegal and an even greater proportion still live in countries where the sale of e-cigarette fluid is prohibited.

These startling figures are mostly due to the vast population of India, where an existing ban on vape juice was accompanied by full prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes when it went into lockdown on 24 March. After 40 days and 40 long nights, the ban was rescinded in much of the country two weeks ago, but ‘emergency’ alcohol prohibition remains in place in South Africa, the Philippines, Greenland, Panama, Zimbabwe, most of Argentina, and parts of Thailand and Mexico. Peru, Malaysia and Mexico have all banned brewing, with the latter suffering from a severe beer drought. Drinkers in Delhi, the Indian capital, now face a 70 per cent tax on alcohol, supposedly to discourage long queues at liquor stores.

This is the future nanny statists want. When asked to justify these sweeping prohibitions, politicians mutter something about relieving pressure on the health service – the catch-all excuse for draconian laws in this foul year of 2020 – but it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that overzealous officials have used the lockdown to introduce the kind of heavy-handed paternalism that has only now become politically possible. 

Do read it all.

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