Stuart Smith on tackling alcohol abuse

I seem to remember Oliver Cromwell once tried to ban mince pies. Reading the recommendations of the House of Commons health select committee report on alcohol abuse, I get the impression that a number of our MPs have been infected with the same joyless dedication to futile causes.

Do they really think that putting a minimum price of 50p on a unit of alcohol will help to staunch binge-drinking? Ireland levies still higher taxes than us on alcohol, yet is the biggest binge-drinking nation in the EU (Luxembourg maybe excepted).

Do they really think that introducing a 9pm watershed ban for TV advertising will do the trick for under-18 year olds (as if most are tucked up in bed by then, have never used a PVR, or heard of internet protocol TV)?

Do they really think the ultimate solution is to take regulation out of the hands of the Advertising Standards Authority and the industry-funded Portman Group and place it with a “FSA-style body”? As if there were no very deep irony in that suggestion? Sadly they do.

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