Monday, June 16, 2008

Off licence alcohol purchases - minimum age 21

At last, some small attempt to rein-in the alcoholisation of the young, even if only in Scotland.

Michael White confuses matters by yoking this good horse to a bad one (morning-after pills for the underaged). Nevertheless, I wonder if we might make progress in this direction, as with smoking, but perhaps in a different way. as it's not just the young who have drink problems.

I think availability is a key factor. Imagine having a beer (or other tipple of your choice) tap next to each cold-water tap in the home - who could resist? Yet alcohol is nearly as accessible these days - supermarkets, post offices, even petrol stations. Rather than try to enforce an age limit (another pile of arrest records to write), let's try to remove some of the temptation: let's reduce the number of off-licences.

My preferred solution would be not to renew the liquor licence for a supermarket if there is an alternative outlet within a certain distance. Supermarket shelving has a narrative all its own - and booze is near the end so we can say to ourselves or our partners, "Shall we?" "Go on, then." It's a cunningly-positioned add-on to household shopping, encouraging the potentially dangerous habit of steady home drinking.

No comments: