Taking issue with prohibitionists
Lord Krebs, of the Nuffield Council, has called for a probe into the "effect of extended opening hours on levels of alcohol consumption and
antisocial behaviour", following the revelation that alcohol-related deaths recorded for 2005 had more than doubled to 8,000 since 1991.
The Licensing Act 2003, which saw the introduction of longer hours and later closing for licensed premises, and has been labelled by the press as the "24-hour drinking law", only came into effect on 19 November 2005. So it is rather curious to blame it for a rise in alcohol-related deaths occurring before its introduction.
Licensing hours don't drive alcohol consumption - it is driven by a combination of disposable income and cultural attitudes to drinking, particularly in the young.
The Confederation of Professional Licensees (CPL) does not believe that returning to First World War licensing hours will reduce drinking. It will simply damage tourism and increase home-drinking.
The new prohibitionists constantly argue that alcohol is too cheap - yet Ian Duncan-Smith's social cohesion report exploded that myth. Alcohol-price inflation has exceeded general inflation by 20% over the past 30 years. So alcohol is actually more expensive than ever before.
At the same time, wage inflation has exceeded price inflation by 91%.
As a society we have become more affluent and most things are more affordable, including things that can be bad for us, such as alcohol and sweet or fatty foods.
This is very convenient for politicians, opening the door to misguided social crusaders who advocate tax increases as a panacea.
The idea that tax or price increases are a silver bullet that can solve excessive drinking lacks credibility.
Alcohol consumption in Scandinavian countries exceeds UK levels, despite alcohol taxes being higher than ours.
CPL believes in "educating-to-prevent" irresponsible alcohol consumption.
The simple solutions of these new activists aren't justified, won't work and are just a thin disguise for what they're really after: alcohol prohibition.
Chairman, Confederation of Professional Licensees
Paying a high price for peace
Your article about cheap supermarket booze ("Morrisons slated for £8 bottle of Gordon's", Morning Advertiser, 29 November 2007) made me think about the argument that responsible adults should be able to buy cheap Gordon's Gin and drink it over a period of months, never mind what happens when irresponsible youths drink it in an evening.
Even in this reasonable area, two drunken youths damaged 12 cars in one night, costing £10,000 and least six hours of police time.
They were out of their heads on cheap vodka, causing mayhem at 8.30pm.
They are aged over 18 but are banned from all the local pubs.
It is a false economy for me to have cheap gin available at my local supermarket.
I'd pay £30 a bottle to avoid all that expense and inconvenience in my area.
No neutrality in confusing scheme
Re: "Keg deposit scheme will be cash-neutral", MA, 6 December 2007.
There's no such thing as cash-neutral. When would we be charged for our remaining barrels?
Draymen only pick up what they drop off each day. We are often the first drop and the truck is packed. A holiday-week order is 30-40 barrels, and in the first week of January we drop our order to 20.
How would the rest be collected? Twenty barrels stuck in my cellar can cause major problems.
Heaven knows what happens if the barrels are stored outside.
And heaven help the delivery people - in the past four months I have only found five examples where they have bothered to record the number they have returned.
Will depots sift delivery slips to determine how many barrels you have if their records are incomplete? Each of us could have hundreds of barrels outstanding.
Doesn't sound cash-neutral to me.