Sounds like this is a case of "law of small numbers." The deaths dropped by 40 in a single year in a single city? 40 people? Does that not see drastically small to use to back something like this up?
I only thought of Japan because they sell alcohol (beer and sake) in vending machines there. Doesn't really get much easier to buy than that. And alcohol is popular there, it's not as if it's a country with prohibition.
I’m actually surprised that alcohol related deaths are so low.
The main alcohol related root cause is the culture of binge drinking. The way to tackle that is to create and encourage a culture of moderate drinking. Change licensing laws to make it easy for families to go to pubs for example.
In scotland?? Drinking culture is tied in to masculinity at least in the UK midlands ('beer or queer' - that kind of shit though thankfully fadin) and I'll bet it's the same in scotland. And you've got an entire drug industry, the drinks industry, working hard to get people to abuse, NOT use, to ABUSE to excess, their product.
It's a deep problem with very difficult solutions. Externalised costs of capitalism, shitty lives, poverty, people who can't see a way out and if offered won't take it...
Educating people about lifestyle is proving effective.
So because no one agrees on anything, nothing gets done.
These days Moscow Mitch just sits on his hands and does nothing.
* I'm not blaming Republicans, Nancy Pelosi and her buddies have been doing similar shenanigans in the House. Currently she refuses to address any serious legislation in the House using the fact that it will never make it through the Senate as an excuse.
Honestly the behavior of both leaders has the same net effect and makes you wonder if they're both working towards the same goal.
It is like societies response to suicide prevention: put up a fence, don't make the people who want to jump not want to jump.
I would be interested in seeing if there's been a decline in domestic violence and other forms of crime that have a strong historical relation with alcohol consumption.
My bet is that there's no such evidence.
I'm also curious to see how much variation in deaths there are year over year. Maybe 20% changes aren't uncommon, in which case this study is just picking up noise and no signal.
I'm also curious why they just don't implement a tax instead of minimum pricing, that way they could take that revenue and dedicate it to alcohol-related problems, at least somewhat offsetting the alcohol's cost to society.
I didn't know this was a thing until going to Edinburgh for the first time a couple of years ago. The queue and item makeup at 9.45 made me see the flaw in this plan quite quickly.
I was told a funny story from my Russian friend where they introduced some law to prevent people buying hard liquor after 10pm to curb alcoholism. He was quite amused to see people running into the shop at 9:55pm with a trolley and back out just before 10pm with a trolley full of hard liquor.
This problem has been creeping up for a while, many of these people have been abusing themselves for a long time and are now paying the price.
But yeah, maybe if you can't get ultra-cheap cider you pop out for some heroin instead.
I wonder if home brew is getting more popular in Scotland?
There is a strong desire for "shooting galleries" in Scotland (safe spaces to take drugs where help and clean needles are available) but the UK government and the Scottish government have very different policies on drugs.
But getting a recreational drug « approved » for sale is difficult. But maybe not impossible.
And chances are the attributes that make it relatively safe in 500mL-beer-equivalents probably make it possible to consume 10x amounts for 10x pleasure but still 5x worse negative effects than that 500mL beer.
Alcohol’s side effects contribute to its self-limiting self-administration for a good chunk of the population.
They really should be tracking all alcohol and drug-related deaths instead of pretending that we live in a world free of negative externalities.
The minimum price was set to 50p per unit / centilitre of alcohol.
(Keeping easy metric amounts for simplicity. In bars beer and cider is sold in 568mL glasses, though wine and spirits are nice round metric amounts.)
A 1L bottle of vodka, at 40% ABV, contains 40cL of alcohol. The shop or bar must sell it for at least 40×£0.50 = £20. In England, Tesco's cheapest 1L bottle of vodka is £15, so this has increased the price by £5 in Scotland. A fancy vodka which costs £22 in England is unaffected.
A 2L bottle of cheap cider at 5% ABV must cost at least £5. At Tesco in England, this is available for about £2.
Admittedly, 99% of the alcohol on the market is already well above the price minimum,
But I went with what was for sale on the Tesco website. I think I read some time ago that they voluntarily stopped selling "White Lightning" etc.
I bought it once when I was 15, so I'm a bit out of touch.
A bottle of wine containing 10 units of alcohol has to be sold for at least £5, and a can of lager containing 2 units of alcohol has to cost at least £1.
Unlike supermarkets and off-licences, most drinks sold in pubs, clubs and restaurants already cost more than 50p per unit so there is no real difference under minimum pricing.
Minimum pricing is an effective policy because it targets the drinkers causing the most harm to themselves and society, whilst having almost no effect on moderate drinkers.
All alcohol sold is marked with the number of "units" it contains. Multiply that by the minimum unit price (currently £0.50) to get a minimum total price.
See also https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/alcohol-scotland-d...
> The minimum price of alcohol is to be calculated according to the following formula—
> MPU × S × V × 100
> MPU is the minimum price per unit,
> S is the strength of the alcohol, and
> V is the volume of the alcohol in litres.
It's hard to figure out, but I think "alcohol" actually means "alcoholic beverage" and "strength" means "percentage of alcohol in the alcoholic beverage". So with a MPU of £0.50 and pint (0.56 litres) of 3% alcohol cider, you'd have £.5 × .03 × .56L × 100 = £0.84. So it looks like the "unit" in "minimum price per unit" is "centiliters", although this unit is mentioned literally nowhere in the law.
It's a minimum price per centiliter of pure alcohol in the beverage. That's it.
Units aren't the only confusing thing here.
You need to read it in context. "Alcohol" is quite adequately defined at Licensing Act (Scotland) 2005 s.2: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2005/16/section/2
s.147 defines strength: "strength", in relation to alcohol, is to be determined in accordance with section 2 of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 (c. 4), thus "the alcoholic strength of any liquor is the ratio of the volume of the alcohol contained in the liquor to the volume of the liquor (inclusive of the alcohol contained in it)".
It's defined in such terms as that makes it easy to calculate - both strength and volume can be looked up from the label of the alcohol. The average person wouldn't know where to start with centiliters of pure alcohol in the beverage. You don't actually need to know what a unit is to calculate it, but it's 10ml of pure alcohol, or 25ml of a 40% spirit (standard sales amount). It'll be familiar to most UK drinkers.
This phrasing frustrates me quite a bit. I assume they're referring to "% concentration of ethanol by volume", but they chose to express it in this obtuse "units" and "strength" nomenclature. (Or is this referring to the "proof" as the strength in their formula? Is that metric used in Scotland?)
If the intent is to communicate to the public, this is not an effective way to do it.
"Units" reduce the complexity to a single number. For most drinks it will be 1, 2 or 3 units. Simple numbers, single digits.
General health advice will state that n units are the maximum recommended per week or day for men or for women. It's a single number to remember. Make sure the drinks you have total less than that maximum number, and you'll be following the recommendations.
The aim here isn't to be scientifically accurate. It's to reduce the problem to its essentials so that the message is clear and simple, and everyone in the entire population can understand it and follow it. By that measure, it's wildly successful.
Units are an unit of measure. It's literally a different name for a centilitre.
> "Units" reduce the complexity to a single number. For most drinks it will be 1, 2 or 3 units. Simple numbers, single digits.
Centilitres reduce the complexity to a single number. For most drinks it would be 1, 2, or 3 centilitres. Simple numbers, single digits.
> General health advice will state that n units are the maximum recommended per week or day for men or for women. It's a single number to remember. Make sure the drinks you have total less than that maximum number, and you'll be following the recommendations.
General health advice will state that n centilitres are the maximum recommended per week or day for men or for women. It's a single number to remember. Make sure the drinks you have total less than that maximum number, and you'll be following the recommendations.
One shot is one unit.
One beer is 2-3 units.
One glass of wine is 2-3 units.
It is very simple maths. The kind you find hard to mess up when drinking.
One shot is one centilitre.
One beer is 2-3 centilitres.
One glass of wine is 2-3 centilitres.
It's not maths at all, it's just communication. There's nothing "simpler" about "unit" than "centilitre", it's just less clear.
It would be like a continental European going to America and going, "What are all these MILES things? It's confusing!".
In Ontario, Canada, it works differently. They attempt to apply different minimum prices to various broad categories of alcoholic drink (beer vs wine vs liquor).
The reason this is so fantastically confusing is because sometimes even regulators use "alcohol" to refer to the drink, and not the ethanol.
By setting it per unit instead of quantity of drink the government targets super strength cheap cider etc that were linked to lots of anti-social behaviour and crime.
Was there not a more negative spin they could've used, e.g. "deaths fall by smaller percent than promised/hoped"?
I note this policy is being mooted UK wide - good. Overuse - and outright abuse - of alcohol is so prevalent and "normal" in the UK it's shocking.
Impact to prices in bars and supermarkets has been totally negligible to anyone enjoying e.g. a pretty cheap £6 bottle of wine or four-beers-for-£5 bundles. It's the supercheap £3 for 2L of strong cider this policy's targeted at and it looks like it might be helping.
To moot is to argue, but then your next statement seems to suggest you want the policy to be rolled out across the UK? Are you for or against rolling this policy out across the UK?
I currently live in New Zealand where alcohol is relatively expensive and it has a massive drinking problem for young persons. When I go back to the UK, the problem is about the same, but the young people aren't going broke buying alcohol. I don't think it works. Increasing the price of Tobacco didn't do much to stop smoking, but vaping and preventing smoking in public areas did. Changing social attitudes to smoking is fundamentally what reduced it.
Personally, I think it's better to use the carrot and not the stick. It shouldn't be the responsibility of the state to raise people's children correctly.
I think this works in my experience. As a child, my parents would let me have a small drink with a meal. As I grew up I never felt the need to drink to excess, I knew how alcohol worked. My sibling had the same experience and doesn't drink. My younger sibling still, was prevented from drinking anything and then went crazy when they legally could.
This is factually false.
By comparison the community facilities in Iceland are wonderful.
I'm surprised that Iceland had a youth drinking problem though. Not that kids everywhere don't find ways to rebel but alcohol seemed very expensive when I was last there. Far in excess of the minimum prices alcohol in Scotland.
Yeah I'm generally for it, but along with the wealth of consultation materials it's recognised as not being a panacea, it's a factor to help a country with a serious recognised problem.
It could be overdone - I'm not in favour of prohibitive pricing across the board - but it feels a sensible pragmatic starting point to me.
How do you read the title ?
Glasgow has had a 21.5 per cent reduction in alcohol-related deaths from 2017 to 2018 - down from 186 to 146
The meta of this policy is kind of interesting too. This kind of price tinkering, control freakery is very New Labour (and probably Conservatives now too, although to a lesser extent). It feels sophisticated, and it is usually accompanied by research from very serious civil servants who model the impact down to the decimal point.
The problem is that these policies always has unintended consequences, you use your blunt instrument to achieve your primary aim...but then other stuff happens. I get that we need to give economists jobs...but can't they just do it somewhere else?
Rather than tinkering with prices, why not focus on exactly why these people are making these choices? The govt has had long enough. And, from what I have read, NHS Scotland just whine about poverty (and now austerity the bogeyman de jour). We have known for years (over a decade iirc) that these effects still exist after income (rich people in Scotland die faster than in England too). Maybe that is a link worth examining: doctors playing politics and patients with poor life expectancy? Ineffective policy-makers (there is little evidence that the govt are particularly competent in anything other than railing against "Westminster")? Ineffective managers in the NHS?
At that point would it be reasonable for Scotland, as a society, to decide to put its thumb in the scale through a measure like the one discussed in the article to try to reduce the harm?
Note: I've never been to Scotland, don't know any Scottish people, and certainly don't have my finger on the beating pulse of Scottish culture, so the above is purely a hypothetical! I'm just always curious to see how people who emphasize the economic causes of problems think about possible non-economic factors.
There are a lot of people in the UK who drink "too much", and a general distribution of people genetically predisposed to addiction. To drink yourself to death requires something more, usually falling off the edge of society. People who feel economically and socially unwanted, growing up in a "hard" culture.
Glasgow and Dundee in particular were cities of the Empire. When that came to an end in 1950 onwards there was a huge spike in unemployment, and a lot of the traditional heavy industries gradually left. This left a huge scar across both the physical infrastructure of Scotland (run down housing) and its culture. Trainspotting isn't exactly a documentary but it's a culturally appropriate portrait of how things were.
This is gradually changing as the country acquires 21st century industries (satellites, biosciences, video games, banking), but that on its own doesn't do a lot for the old drunks.
Rough stats... Glawgow's life expectancy is one of the lowest in the UK and lower than Edinburgh by 2+ years for both men and women. Its employment rate is nearly 10% lower than Edinburgh.
For Americans: comparing Glasgow to Edinburgh is a bit like Baltimore vs Washington DC. Not a perfect comparison, but close enough to get the general idea.
And yes, the issue is cultural. But that doesn't really matter either way (and if the issue is cultural then you can't solve it by increasing costs any way...you are just taxing people who have a problem).
But I still think taxing a thing, especially in this particular way where the policy is very clearly saying "we want to address this particular behavior" is a way for a society to indicate that it wishes to change. Stigma can be very powerful and useful for changing behavior and, through attrition, culture. Though obviously it can go overboard.
...yet, but it's probably coming.
We know that pricing works to change behaviour. We see this with tobacco, plastic bags, sugary drinks, alcohol.
It works, and it works really well.
Ideally the increased revenue would be hypothecated to alcohol treatment, but hypothecation is a tricky topic for some reason in the UK.
Wut? That makes no sense. What we know is: higher prices of a certain product will cause consumption of that product to fall. Will it happen every time? No. And you don't necessarily know if it is going to change behaviour in the way you want (again, that is the kind of policy control freakery that has, generally, not worked very well but was so beloved of New Labour/Cameron). And it may have unintended consequences. There is no stone tablet inscribed with "price is everything" that the world must obey (although that stone tablet may certainly exist at the UoC).
And you missed the point. If England doesn't have this, and alcohol-related deaths are lower is it reasonable to conclude that other stuff is going on (the fact that Scotland has much lower life expectancy would suggest that this is a reasonable conclusion).
There is no "increased revenue" (apart from a one-time duty gain...presumably). It is just minimum pricing.
Hypothecation isn't a tricky topic, it hasn't been commonly used in govt finance globally since the late 19th century (and this term usually means hypothecating govt revenues to a creditor). If you mean reserving the proceeds of a tax for a certain use though, that happens very commonly in the UK (the reason people, usually, talk about this in the UK is because some edgelords have a problem that national insurance is allocated to the NHS whilst the NI "fund", there is no fund in a financial sense, says that the money can't be spent that way).
Only to those in lower socio-economic groups materially affected by the change in prices.
So in one sense it's really just exerting more control over the poorer groups of society.
That said, the problems with alcoholism often affect the less well off, so if it did materially affect them more, then that's probably not a particularly bad thing in terms of satisfying the objectives for the change. This law is primarily affecting the purchase of low quality and high alcohol beverages, like really cheap ciders and lagers. I occasionally buy bottled real ale, and the price has not changed at all. It's around £1.65-£1.80 per bottle in a supermarket. Still much cheaper than at the pub, but several times more what a multipack of cheap cans cost. If the objective is to improve public health by making binge drinking harder, then I think the pricing will actually be effective. It worked for smoking. The pricing of the cheap booze in supermarkets was ridiculously cheap, and I personally think that while it might have benefitted the drinks companies and the supermarkets, it's a net negative for society at large, and overall many people and their families will have their quality of life improved by the change. The change is not stopping purchase of alcohol, or even raising the price of most drinks, but it is raising the price of the stuff people binge on. If you're a moderate and responsible drinker, then you'll not even notice the difference.