Scotland's New Alcohol Policy
                                  by Gerald Michaluk
Hello Bob -

Since beer is a universal drink and we who love it are brothers of the
brew so to speak I thought you and your readers would be
interested in hearing what's going on here in my country of Scotland.
The Scottish government has just published a new alcohol
framework outlining key actions that seek to 'reduce consumption
that they claim would minimise alcohol-related harm arising in the
first place.. One of the strategy's key themes is reducing
consumption by using among other things, minimum pricing and
limiting advertising.,

I, like many others in Scotland, know how important it is to ensure
alcohol is never allowed to become your master. It is clear Scotland
has to develop a healthy relationship with alcohol and eliminate its
excesses. The Scottish Governments is trying to do this and has the
full support of the producers, publicans and retailers of alcohol in
regard to its goal.

However, this is the extent of the shared vision, publican’s, retailers,
drink producers all want to see their excellent, and on the whole,
healthy products, consumed sensibly but don't  necessarily agree
with the Government on how this can be achieved and fear
interference will further damage the industry in all its forms.

There are a lot of jobs in the industry and these should not really be
threatened by the elimination of alcohol abuse if the steps taken are
thought through, are  proportionate, and there are no hidden
consequences.  The alcoholic drinks Industry has however reason to
fear Government action because in the past it has had severely
negative impacts on the industry and the communities it serves.

As a society we have enjoyed alcoholic beverages for thousands of
years, and during all that time, the issues of excess have plagued
governments of every colour and everything from complete
prohibition to selling through government outlet only has been tried
and mostly to no avail.  Nothing has proven to be a reliable long
term solution to the problems associated with alcohol abuse that the
people have been willing to accept.

In my view the reason is simple, you cant dictate to the public how
they should behave.  We have all to want to have a positive
relationship with alcohol, enjoy its benefits while avoiding its
dangers.  The problem with most Government driven initiatives is the
unforeseen consequences and the tendency to dictate to the people
how they should behave.

Too many lobbying bodies are painting pictures to suit their own
agenda and have too much influence while the politicians don't have
enough access to truly independent analysis and insight and so land
up making damaging decisions that alienate rather than convince
the public to support them.

Regulatory changes have fuelled a massive shift from public house
based consumption of alcohol; to home consumption, this is not a
good move in my view as the supervisory element of the pub is lost
as is the companion and peer pressure to be sensible.  While we
don't always see the impact it is apparent in the statistics highlighted
in the Governments strategy document. The move has further
boosted the pre-night out drinking at home, meaning often revellers
and well oiled before they set out to the public house and the
consequences of which we do see on our streets only too often.

Minimum pricing (which means higher prices across the boar) to
reduce demand sounds like a good idea but what are the
consequences the retail  more money on low grade cheep alcohol
as they are forced to sell at an artificially high price pocketing the
added profits.  This means more attention, shelf space  and a
higher  promotional spend is available to these highly profitable
drinks thanks to the Scottish Government minimum pricing policy. So
has it solved or is it going to fuel the problem?

So when the Scottish Movement seeks to tighten up alcohol
advertising it fails to understand it is not less advertising of alcohol
we need but more showing how to enjoy alcohol sensibly and in the
proper context.  We need to change peoples mind set on alcohol
and be more like the Millenniums who, off their own back, are
choosing to consume less alcohol and the alcohol they do drink they
are more fussy about its origin and quality rather then its quantity.

So rather than restrict advertising, use it to promote sensible
consumption in convivial settings and win the hearts and minds of
the consumer over to changing their behaviour.  The war on drink
driving is being won from effective media campaign's and from the
driving community choosing not to drink and drive in a general
response to peer pressure as “we the people” have concluded its
not something we will accept.  Therefore its time for “we the people”
to change our views on alcohol and like drink driving choose to
ostracise those who descent and get away from the current
tolerance of the problem around us.

It is in everyone's interest we drink for health and happiness but
know when to stop.

That's something all beer lovers can agree with!

Thanks Gerald!.  It was most interesting to hear about the new policy in
Scotland.  I couldn't agree more with you .  Your points about ways to
use the media to promote responsible drinking and the impact of
minimum pricing are most effective..  
Again, many thanks for sending your article.  Please keep us informed
about what is the result of all of this..

I'd like to  invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer in any way just as Cheryl did.   I select the best and
publish them here.  So join in and get writing!

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