The cost of alcohol to British society is currently estimated at over £25bn per annum. This is not just the health costs, but also costs relating to crime and disorder, including domestic violence and fights and accidents on the streets. Health workers see the personal costs; we see the fractured families, the individual tragedies of wholly preventable death and disability. And we want action, now, to start to address this complex problem.
Before we do this, can we have a look at the benefits of alcohol consumption please? As I\’ve said before, there must be some or people wouldn\’t booze, would they?
In a free market, one where people partake of voluntary transactions, the perceived benefit to those handing over their money for a particular good or service must be higher than the amount of cash they hand over for that good or service.
This is something that you implicitly acknowledge when you say that higher prices will lead to less boozing: some will conclude that the pleasure they get from drinking will not be worth the extra cost.
So, we have an easy way of estimating what the drinkers of this country think drinking is worth: more than they pay for it.
They pay of the order of £50 billion for booze. Thus, even if we believe your kitchen sink estimation of the costs, booze makes us colletively, at minimum, £25 billion richer.
At which point you and your fellow prodnoses can bugger off, can\’t they?