Cracking down on pubs will exacerbate binge drinking

With binge drinking barely out of the news, the pressure on government to crack down can seem overwhelming, and so ministers appear ready to cave in.

And yet they should resist the temptation to hit pubs, because such a policy shows a woeful misunderstanding of young people’s drinking culture.

Prices in the pubs are already very high and it’s not unusual to pay £3 for a pint in a young person’s venue. The effect is clear; on trade sales have fallen a massive 9 per cent year-on-year.

Despite this fall in on sales, it still costs the NHS £2.7 billion to deal with 800,000 excessive drinkers (we don’t have trend figures as the method of data collection has changed).

Young people already struggle to buy their alcohol at the pub. Instead a culture has emerged whereby drinking far cheaper supermarket bought alcohol is part of getting ready for a night out. It’s a culture that particularly appeals to young women, for whom getting dressed and made-up together has always been a social activity. They often hit the pub or club with the intention of making one drink last all night; but that one drink is all it takes to push them over the edge and into the gutter.

Further increases to pub and club prices can only make this situation worse. We should instead make sensible social drinking in properly regulated and responsible premises more affordable… that means reducing the gap between on and off trade prices and making use of promotions like happy hours that may encourage the kids to come out a bit earlier and before they’ve got drunk at home.

One thought on “Cracking down on pubs will exacerbate binge drinking

  1. Definitely, I think you’re spot on. In fact the way the government should be going is recognising just how responsible the industry is becoming, especially on underage drinking, and start lowering duties in pubs and clubs. It should be (within proportion) cheaper to drink in a social atmosphere, where the bar managers don’t serve those too drunk, or underage, not a severe disadvantage. Meanwhile prices of alcohol sold by supermarkets needs to increase.

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