Friday, February 15, 2008

Binge drinking and the price of alcohol

The thing that most persuades me of the link between binge drinking and the price of alcohol is the fact that the drinks industry is so consistent and vociferous in denying any such link exists.

To quote Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo, speaking on the Radio4 Today programme (14 Feb 2008):

"... there's no evidence in our sector that higher prices dampen consumption."

The facts could not be further from the truth; study after study suggests a very clear and direct link. What's more, sensitivity to price increases tends to be greatest amongst young people.

For specific details of the research, take a look at New Scientist magazine, 21 August, 2004.

The reaction of the drinks industry to this growing mountain of evidence is perhaps best described as one of 'brazen denial' - and it doesn't take a great deal of imagination to grasp the chain of reasoning: increasing taxes on alcohol is very likely to result in both reduced consumption - and profits.

All the same, it's a little more difficult to understand why the government consistently chooses to sing from the same songsheet as the drinks industry. These are our children, whose lives are being destroyed and it's time we called our elected representatives to account.