Excellent article here by Tim Black on the growing campaign to “denormalise” alcohol, of which the demand to confine alcoholic drinks to separate sections of shops is just one small part.
The specific demand – to have separate alcohol areas in supermarkets – is as petty as it is predictable, coming as it does from a group of the professionally Concerned. But the general thrust behind the demand should not be so easily dismissed. That is, a state-backed coalition of the aloof seems intent on ‘denormalising’ alcohol. The means are many, from implementing a minimum price for alcohol to demanding that twentysomethings prove their age, but the end is the same: they want drinking and drinkers stigmatised. They want the consumption of alcohol to be looked upon not as ‘the natural accompaniment to a relaxing meal’, but as an activity as shameful and embarrassing as, well, smoking.Many of the individual measures may, taken alone, not seem unreasonable, but the cumulative effect is to make alcohol much less of a “normal” part of everyday life. And, of course, as he points out, the template was taken from the campaign against smoking. What happened to smokers yesterday will be happening to drinkers tomorrow.
Just as smoking has been rendered socially abhorrent, so drinking seems to be undergoing a similar assault. Every mean-spirited measure, every report highlighting how much alcohol consumption costs the NHS, every single story hacked out of the cliché of binge-drinking Britain, serves to make the rather mundane act of drinking alcohol that little bit less acceptable, that little bit less normal. We are to be shamed into changing our boozy ways.