I would urge everyone to read the written evidence submitted by Chris Snowdon, Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs and author of the Velvet Glove, Iron Fist blog, to the House of Commons Health Select Committee on the issue of alcohol policy:
As regards raising the drinking age, lowering the strength of alcoholic drinks, banning advertising and mandating plain packaging, these are all policies entirely at odds with the principles of a free society. Drinking alcohol is an adult pastime and those who are 18 and over should not be prohibited from engaging in it and have a right to know which products are available. Plain packaging, like minimum pricing, would be a serious infringement of commercial freedom which would likely violate a number of free trade agreements to which the UK is a signatory. We find it troubling and scarcely believable that the government is contemplating creating a country in which bureaucrats not only set the price of products but also design their packaging.Wouldn’t it be good if there was a national organisation representing the interests of responsible drinkers of all kinds – beer, cider, wine and spirits, on-trade and off-trade – that was prepared to speak out in such a forthright and cogent manner? In a sense it is disappointing and worrying that the official orthodoxy on the evils of drink is only being countered by individual principled lobbyists, no matter how articulate they may be.
More power to Chris’s elbow, though!