It’s often said (particularly over the past three weeks) that Britain has an “alcohol problem”. But, in reality, even if you accept the analysis of the neo-Prohibitionists at face value, we have three separate problems which may overlap to some extent, but certainly aren’t one monolithic issue:
- An increase in late-night alcohol-related disorder, particularly in town and city centres
- Many more people regularly drinking at levels that in the long term are likely to do serious damage to their health
- A rise in drinking, often at hazardous levels, amongst under-18s
And it’s funny how we are at least officially stricter on underage sales than at any time in living memory, yet apparently far more underage drinking goes on. Maybe the approach in the past of tolerating it to some extent, but keeping it within bounds, worked better at controlling the overall level.