Sunday, 4 September 2011

The numbers game

The Observer reports on some “research” from Alcohol Concern claiming to demonstrate that there’s a direct link between the number of off-licences in an area and the amount of underage drinking. This may well be true, but I’d like to see the underlying figures before reaching any conclusions. It’s hard to see which is cause and which effect – the number of off-licences will inevitably to a large extent reflect the demand for alcohol in a particular area, not create it out of thin air, and areas where adult drinking is more prevalent are likely to also have more underage drinking. Can we also be certain that the results weren’t skewed by the inclusion of areas with a high Muslim population who are not, by and large, going to be buying or drinking much booze?

Predictably, they go on to use these findings to call for a reduction in the absolute number of off-licences. Now even I wouldn’t exactly die in a ditch to defend the right of every two-bit corner shop to sell alcohol. But to stop it would tend to damage independent retailers and play into the hands of Tesco, and could encourage corruption if councillors were responsible for allocating a fixed number of licences.

This is a typical neo-Prohibitionist tactic, to use something apparently reasonable, especially one involving the welfare of children, to ratchet their agenda along another notch or two. One of their key aims is a quantitative control on licences, and this will help achieve that. Restricting the “availability” of alcohol, along with “affordability” and advertising, is one of the Three Prongs of Neo-Prohibitionism.

It is also pointed out in the comments that much of the alcohol consumed by under-18s is bought for them by older family members, so clamping down on underage sales will have no effect. And, of course, letting your 15-year-old son or daughter have a can of Carling or a glass of Lambrini isn’t illegal. Yet...


  1. Could I possibly be correct in thinking that minors might have parents, under whose supervision, if not control, they live?

    The congenital morons of Alcohol concern don't understand that a choice of off-licences adds to diversity. They don't all handle the same stock, some are better than others. You may choose, rather than be corralled into the 'approved' shop.

    Had these people respectable, decent jobs, would they try to make more work for themselves? The remind me of glaziers bricking windows after work.

    They interfere; they whine; they panic. They subdue freedom and produce nothing for society. Their Weltanshauung is as narrow as the urethra that gave them life.

    If these saps really wanted to help others they'd bugger off and help the starving in darkest Africa. It's above their station, though, to crap in a pit, so they'll release policy briefings from Devon instead about an epidemic that isn't there.

    How do these people sleep at night knowing that some poor tool worked in McDonald's today to pay them to put the price of his hard-earned Carlsberg up? These leeches aren't just amoral, they're immoral. Self-satisfied, smug twats with shit degrees in useless subjects who have no greater calling in life than to interfere.

    I should point out at this time that I am relatively price-insensitive, i.e., I can pretty much afford what I want. It wasn't ever thus, and I enjoy the company of friends who are already being priced out of the market. I see them less and less.

  2. More on Radio 4 today spelling out the cost to the NHS, crime etc re boozing.
    The only thing they want is PRICE INCREASES.
    Looks like the poor old sod chucked out of the pub for a ciggy will be only be able to dream about a drink as well soon.
    I really am beginning to hate my Country.

  3. And once you have a mechanism for restricting off licences, the level can be reduced by lobbying from interested parties ... like Alcohol Concern. It's precisely the same reason that minimum alcohol pricing should be resisted at all costs.

    Yet we hear hospitality reps bigging it up on a regular basis.

    Don't they hear that tap dripping? ;)

  4. I think someone's got cause and effect mixed up. I wonder that there might be a lot of offies because there's a lot of customers, rather than the other way round. If we close some offies, then the others will simply get busier. Surely?

  5. Yes, in the real world, as opposed to Shenkerland, the demand for drink drives the number of customers, not the other way round.

  6. Poor areas have lots of small off licences. Rich areas, a few large supermarkets. Poor people more lokely to get completely wrecked.

  7. Difficult to know where to start on this one.

    10% of admissions directly related to off-licence density... so 90% aren't.

    A given example, Malvern Hills, has an off-licence density that's half the national rate but a higher-than-average number of admissions.

    The quote "This study does not set out to establish cause and effect".

    Even for Alcohol Concern, this is pathetic politicing.

  8. "Self-satisfied, smug twats with shit degrees in useless subjects who have no greater calling in life than to interfere."

    Hear, hear! Bravo that man! We are ruled by a herd of donkeys.


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