Mark Daniels: Coalition should ignore knee-jerk headlines and learn from the Dutch

Related tags Vast majority Soft drink

If there's one thing guaranteed to get me uppity in a morning - apart, that is, from discovering there's no marmalade to put on my eggy bread - it's...

If there's one thing guaranteed to get me uppity in a morning - apart, that is, from discovering there's no marmalade to put on my eggy bread - it's scaremongering headlines released to the public in an effort to garner shock and awe reactions with no real thought process behind them as to the effect it might have on businesses.

Take, for example, last week's crackerjack headline: Heroin, Ecstacy and Cocaine aren't as dangerous as alcohol. Apparently.

Cue, of course, some mind-numbing tabloid stories that will do nothing other than serve to give those who govern us even more reason to tighten legislation on the pub trade. I'm expecting a further amendment to the Mandatory Code any day now...

Naturally, there were some good-humoured discussions in the pub about it, with the vast majority of my darts team eschewing their normal requests for IPA and Guinness and asking instead for Coke. My soft drink sales rocketed that night, but it was all in good fun.

Thankfully, the vast majority of people - especially pub goers - realise that the story is more the making of red top melodrama than yet another attempt to destroy the pub trade, but will the government realise that?

As ever, it's a case of the minority spoiling it for the majority. Put in perspective, relatively few people indulge in hard core drugs while the majority of drinkers consume their tipple responsibly. But our knee-jerk society never seems to see it this way and such damning headlines usually only serve to do more harm than good.

Unlike, for want of yet another example, Holland. A country which already allows lower classed drugs to be sold within licensed premises and ladies of a certain persuasion to proffer themselves to those who wish to pay for the pleasure of their company, the Dutch have also recently rescinded - in part - their smoking ban.

This, however, isn't the result of somebody smoking a spliff and then saying, in relaxed tones, "I know, let's allow them all to schmoke again," but instead a sensible response from a country who recognises the damage that the law was doing to trade. Two thousand businesses will be better off for it.

Many of Holland's larger bars have been able to weather the ban by focusing more heavily on food and alternative entertainment but smaller pubs, whose trade was decimated by the introduction of the smoking ban, have never been able to recoup the lost business through other avenues. Sound familiar?

Rather than reacting to shock-and-awe tabloid headlines, CamerEgg would do well to take some advice from our neighbours across the North Sea.

As for drugs being better for us than alcohol, let's not forget that it isn't that long since we saw headlines telling us that drinking red wine is good for the heart...

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