Will we ever learn?
This question seems to crop up time and again when we see how many people in Ireland go overboard on alcohol. Many of us ‘have been there; done that’. Most of us have learned. Some of us did not survive. Many are still out there drinking until they are dizzy. Retailers, especially in our supermarkets and forecourts, took advantage of this and would not heed warnings that have been directed towards them for many years. Yesterday Government declared them irresponsible. They should be ashamed of themselves. So should many others in the supply chain. Indeed so should Government itself!
A minimum pricing on alcohol, in a country that already has one of the highest retail price levels on alcohol in Europe, seems to be missing the point altogether. A partial ban on advertising is even less impressive.
Both of these solutions are impositions onto a trade that has behaved poorly. Their intention is to curb the purchase of inexpensive forms of alcohol and to avoid advertising and marketing that might influence younger people. While there is absolutely no denying how harmful binge drinking, and over drinking, has in Ireland these latest measures are simply an attempt to sweep the problem ‘under the carpet’ and hope it goes away! Then the Dept of Health can say, ‘We’ve done our bit’.
Is that it? Is that the plan?
This ‘plan’ has come from one side of the problem only and, very worryingly, it seems to suggest that Ireland drinks too much because we have access to cheap booze. Cheap Booze is equated to inexpensive price points. I’m sorry but Cheap Booze will always be the least expensive. Cheap booze will now simply be more expensive. An advertising ban? Do we really think we own the airwaves?
The bar has now been raised as to what the least expensive booze will be. It will help our independent traders to compete on a more level playing pitch and may even encourage less drinking at home and bring a few more back into the pub. Hardly what the aim of the plan is now, is it? Down a naggin of vodka at €10 and you will get just as drunk as downing one at €5. The price of booze in pubs won’t be affected at all by these new measures – or in clubs – or in anywhere that already sells above the new minimum price.
IBEC (its members bring us the booze in the first place..) has criticised the ‘plan’ as an opportunity wasted in respect of not adding an educational dimension into the equation. Are they for real? Can they not see how utterly ineffective, biased, misdirected and ultimately feeble, their own attempts have been?
Ireland drinks too much because it likes to.
Unless this changes to ‘Ireland drinks because it likes to‘ we will continue to have a problem.
The ONLY way this will happen is if we work very hard (with a lot of cash resources) BEFORE the next generation of drinkers comes along. And I am very sorry but when I heard the spokesperson for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on alcohol policy, on Morning Ireland yesterday, suggesting that education would simply not be cost effective I almost gagged into my porridge. The cheek of it. Unless we ramp up a genuine, independent and all party educational platform we may as well be onlookers to the car crash.
Will we ever learn? Lets never stop learning. Lets begin teaching a new lesson. The days of bullying, and heavy handed blunt instrument legislation, should be confined to history where we drank because we had been taught to; where we drank because we had to to; where we drank because it was safe to.
Lets learn how to drink all over again.