Monday, 9 July 2012

Why Minimum Pricing Doesn't Really Work

Convinced that minimum pricing works, or that increasing prices will sort out the binge drinkers? Watch this and think again.

Even if you still are convinced about minimum pricing, you can at least have a laugh.   
I stumbled across this while looking for something else. It's good to share.


Tony Kennick said...

Mitchell and Webb are funny and while Cambridge educated it was in English Language and Literature and Modern History.
For a slightly more academically rigorous model, which will be tested in Scotland, please see:

Cooking Lager said...

very good

Dave Unpronounceable said...

excellent sketch, but not really relevant to minimum pricing... all it'll do is take away the complicated calculation of 'the most alcohol per millilitre at the lowest price in this corner shop'... which is the highly spurious reason certain states in america make it illegal to display ABVs!

Tandleman said...

DU. The point is I think that those requiring a dose of alcohol will sacrifice other purchases to pay for it whatever the price.

Phil said...

Thanks for the link to the Sheffield study, Tony. Extraordinary stuff.

Various public health groups have recommended a minimum unit price of 50 pence. Our model suggests that, in England, this would:

- Reduce overall alcohol consumption by 6.7%

- Lead to:

* 3,060 fewer deaths and 97,700 fewer hospital admissions over ten years
* 42,500 fewer crimes, 424,400 fewer days absent from work and 25,900 fewer people unemployed in the first year.

On the hospital and crime claims - has anything as dramatic as this ever happened? Can public health professionals point to any previous example of a sharp downward inflection traceable to a particular public policy? The only things I can think of are North Sea gas (which reduced the suicide rate by eliminating the head-in-oven method) and mandatory crash helmets (which reduced opportunistic bike theft), and those two examples are celebrated for a reason - they're highly unusual.

As for the unemployment example - come again? 25,000 fewer people unemployed, in the first year? How on earth does making booze more expensive instantly create jobs?

dave u said...

fair point TM, it's been a few years since i watched the sketch so I'd forgotten the apple, bread etc...

though my interpretation of those was not so much that he wanted them but sacrificed them for another delicious alcoholic lager beer, more that it was a (daily) charade he goes through to purchase his refreshing beverage without looking like an alky...

Tandleman said...

Indeed Dave, but that never happens - right?

Anonymous said...

Thats the thing, it already happens. I used to work with people drinking 6l 7% cider (42units) daily. when your drinking at that level you don't think about eating whether you have the money or not.

Cheap white cider (approx £4 for 3l) is what people who used to drink industrial spirits drink.

with this demographic you are in pure harm reduction territory. If minimum pricing reduces consumption by a couple of l per week its better than nothing!

Tandleman said...

I think my point is that the alcoholic will give up the bread and apple to buy a hit.

The bigger the price, the more bread and apples will be given up.

RedNev said...

Exactly right, TM. I've dealt with quite a few alcoholics in the course of my job, and I've known a few personally: a minimum price won't help. They'll continue to spend whatever cash they need to for their booze and spend even less on what are, in their eyes, less important things such as food, fuel bills, and so on. A minimum price will not spare their lives and get them back to work, but rather lead to malnutrition, psychological ill health and financial problems.

Many of us choose to drink, but alcoholism is an illness, not a choice.

Dave Bailey said...

Sadly, I knew an alcoholic once. He made the same excuses and ended up not eating at all. It was all very sad. No minimum pricing or price increase would have helped him.

He's dead now.

Curmudgeon said...

I'd agree the sketch is basically dramatising a daily charade rather than being about sacrificing other goods for drink.

If anything, it could be said to support the case for minimum pricing - if he could only afford one can, he might not end up asleep on the shop doorway.

It's interesting that in the latest issue of What's Brewing, CAMRA is specifically distancing itself from "a minimum price unrelated to the costs of producing and selling beer".

The genuine cost of production is, of course, very difficult to determine.