Now, at the first anniversary of the smoking law, it\’s been a triumph: 28% have stopped smoking, 43% have tried,
Eh? Without bothering to look it up, I thought that the total number of smokers was about 30% of the population?
As for drink, what\’s the point of Labour handwringing when it could do what it did with smoking? As Scotland now proposes, ban off-licence sales to under-21s, control supermarket prices strictly with no loss-leading two-for-one offers making booze cheaper than water. Why not ban drink advertising, as with cigarettes? Drink consumption is highly price-sensitive, and cirrhosis and drink-related diseases far worse in the poorer areas. Changing cultural attitudes to drink is not impossible. But part of the government\’s reluctance to challenge all manner of culturally destructive forces springs from its fear of confronting the great gods of the market.
And as we all said right at the beginning: once they\’d done for the smokers they would come for the drinkers. Further, look at that, she wants to change the entire culture! Us Anglos Saxons and the Scandanavians have, for a millenium or more, had a binge relationship with alcohol and she\’s going to change all of that with a little manipulation of the tax system?
Oh, and the obligatory Polly error of today is this:
Drink consumption is highly price-sensitive,
Depends which booze you\’re talking about.
An extensive review of the economic literature on alcohol demand concluded that based on studies using aggregate data (i.e., data that report the amount of alcohol consumed by large groups of people), the price elasticities of demand for beer, wine, and distilled spirits are -0.3, -1.0, and -1.5, respectively (Leung and Phelps 1993).3 (3Leung and Phelps (1993) emphasize that these numbers represent “best guesses” because of the wide range of estimates contained in the studies reviewed.) These estimates suggest that beer consumption is relatively insensitive to price changes, whereas demand for wine and distilled spirits is very responsive to price.
That beer that is sold in the two for one offers is exactly the type of booze where the demand is highly insensitive to price (correction in comments).
My final point would be those "great gods of the market". Markets are simply the cumulative end results of millions of individual decisions. In this case, the reason that people drink lots of alcohol is because they want to….that\’s why they buy it, see? The Great God of the Market is in fact the individual liberty to design one\’s own path to the grave. We all get there in the end after all, and preferably without being told what we may or may not do, as long as our actions are not harming others.