Minimum alcohol pricing: cracking the proverbial walnut with a sledgehammer

You'll probably think that because we're a wine merchant and in the alcoholic drinks industry, we're instinctively against a minimum unit price (MUP). You'd have good reason to think it given the stink the Government's proposals have kicked up.

Yet you'd only be half right. Yes, wine merchants peddling mid-to-higher range wines ought to be delighted. The difference will turn out to be slight, but our wines shall seem more affordable relative to the wafer-thin margin wines sold in supermarkets. One merchant reckons it's a "win-win situation that will level the playing field"; another is "totally in favour"; both want the price set higher than the 45p suggested.

From a purely self-interested viewpoint, it's great. David remains completely unaffected (for instance, all our wines cost more than the proposed baseline), while Goliath (with his 80 per cent market share) gets shafted.

However, having considered it at length, I can't support this policy. Firstly, I just don't believe governments should be setting prices like this, and I am not in the slightest a libertarian. Yet that in itself is not a reason to oppose it. What matters most is that there is little evidence to suggest the minimum alcohol price policy will do what it is supposed to do. That makes it a bad law, and bad laws should not be on the statute book.

The Adam Smith Institute has produced a helpful paper critiquing the methodology behind the policy. Caveat emptor, the ASI comes with its own dogmatic baggage as a strident proponent of the free market from an academic and not altogether always practical standpoint. Of course they would oppose this. Yet their analysis is compelling and worth reading, at least in summary.

Essentially, they attack the utility of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (SAPM), a computer model developed by the University of Sheffield, for providing "false" and "unreasonable assumptions" and ignoring "statistical error" and certain policy outcomes.

I was previously a management consultant specialising in pricing, so I'm not fazed by a price-demand curve. I also know that a computer model is only as good as the statistics feeding it and the assumptions coded into it. Have a look at the ASI's analysis and decide for yourself; but for my part, I am nervous about the SAPM being used as the basis for this scope of policymaking.

The health lobby is in favour of MUP because doctors and other healthcare professionals believe it will reduce incidence of alcohol-related diseases. I do not presume to second-guess doctors about a subject they are far more familiar with than me. However, real-life statistics do not bear this assumption out.

According to the ASI, the SAPM stated that at certain MUP levels, with consequent drops in consumption (based on flawed price sensitivity assumptions) disease would reduce at a certain rate per year from 2006 levels. However, since 2006 alcohol consumption has fallen in this country at a rate that according to the SAPM is equivalent to that produced by a MUP of 70p. Alcohol-related diseases have not fallen with it.

The consumption-disease argument is a fallacy. Campaigners presume that an overall fall in average consumption will reduce disease. Yet this is a policy prescription akin to cracking the proverbial walnut with a sledgehammer. The true problem is more nuanced than that.

Overall alcohol consumption is barely more now than what it was in 1980. What's more, it has been on a steady decline for much of the last decade, including among younger age groups.

Health and social policy has to be far more targeted at problem drinkers. Price is a powerful mechanism, but not for someone in the grip of alcohol dependency. Forty per cent of alcohol in this country is drunk by ten per cent of the population. Why penalise the other ninety per cent?

There is a valid argument, put to me today, that this will address the anti-social side of drinking, the 'pre-loading' and binge drinking that does indeed mar so much of modern Britain on a Friday or Saturday night. Pubs might benefit as their drinks look relatively more affordable compared to a supermarket's crate of lager cheaper than mineral water. Make a 2-litre bottle of white cider more expensive and perhaps our bingers shall conduct their proclivities with less abandon and more taste, or something to that effect. So it might. Yet with or without minimum pricing, a vodka & Red Bull made from filthy supermarket own-brand vodka and a gloopy energy drink is always going to be less expensive than one mixed up in a night club.

To top it off, the whole policy is illegal under EU law, as the Scottish government is discovering to its irritation. The EU has over the years mushroomed into a many-headed hydra. Yet it is at its heart a free trade area.

So where to go from here? We know that alcohol is a real problem in certain parts of Britain and among certain demographics at certain times. Alcohol-related illness and alcohol-induced anti-social behaviour create massive disruption and enormous costs for the NHS, the police and corollary public services. Too often does the maniacal 'something must be done' mentality hold sway today, but in this situation then evidently something must indeed be done.

The price mechanism is a blunt tool for fixing such a complex problem that crosses multiple sectors of public policy and government departments. Yet if the Government is set on fixing prices, why do it through a MUP that hands more profits to big retailers? Instead, why not consider simplifying and streamlining alcohol duty across product verticals and according to alcoholic strength, and in so doing set a floor price that way? Make duty flatter and cheaper but still insist on basic prices for alcohol and spend the revenue generated on supply-side alcohol strategies (such as education and prevention) and healthcare.

Fundamentally, this would be a bad law based on weak policy based on flawed methodologies. And as tempting as it might be to support it out of self-interest in the short-run, bad law begets bad law.


Join the conversation...


Hi, #uname,
My Website:
Contact information:
raging boner


Profit employ! Thanx you concerning you undertaking


algmwsfe.trvjssfm.xjof.vl, taoqekxdso


noofesfe.trvjssfm.xjof.vl, bjgngiqksq


this website might help me personally to locate some good suggestions!


Lost credit card bimatoprost ou acheter On Tuesday, Lindsey Graham said he and fellow U.S. Republican Senator John McCain – both members of the chamber’s Armed Services Committee – hoped to travel to Egypt next week at the request of President Barack Obama. Graham said specifics of the trip, including whom they would meet, had not yet been decided.


Another service? bimatoprost ophthalmic 0.01 NEWARK, N.J./BOSTON, July 25 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutorscharged six foreign nationals with hacking crimes, includingcredit and debit card thefts that authorities say cost U.S. andEuropean companies more than $300 million in losses, and chargedone of them with breaching Nasdaq computers.


Who do you work for? cheap hydrochlorothiazide The bank also named Jean Moorhouse as head of groupprudential regulatory affairs. Moorhouse, who will join fromLloyds Banking Group on Nov. 25, will manage the bank’srelationship with UK Prudential Regulatory Authority.


I’m a trainee purchase hydrochlorothiazide online Indeed, the atmosphere in the crowded hearing room was agreat deal lighter than during the dark days of the financialcrisis when Bernanke had to endure a heavy barrage of critiques,and the Fed chief looked more at ease.


I’m unemployed dilantin 300 Great might be an understatement. Verlander took a no-decision in Detroit’s 1-0 Game 2 loss in Oakland, so he came back and fired eight scoreless innings to lead the Tigers to a Game 5 win, holding Oakland hitless through the first 6.2 innings of the win-or-go-home contest.


Good crew it’s cool :) dilantin 300 mg The so-called “cyber range” is a collection of servers and routers in a room on the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus. The equipment will allow people to practice hacking computer systems as a way to learn about network vulnerabilities.


Where’s the postbox? what is trazodone That the President and his team have botched the execution of a central piece of this hallmark domestic policy push. Or that they’re sidestepping political blowback in advance of midterm elections. Or that they have identified a serious problem in the design of the law.


A company car desyrel oral Philips Securities said in a report it remains positive onSGX due to higher securities revenue forecast, new offerings inderivatives and attractive dividends with potential for anincrease. It maintained a ‘buy’ rating and S$7.90 target priceon the stock.


Is there ? abilify 2mg tablets The U.S. government’s monthly jobs report due out at the endof the week was also keeping investors on edge, particularlybecause the Fed has made the unemployment rate a pillar in itsdecision on economic stimulus.


Is it convenient to talk at the moment? price of abilify 5mg “The president is happy that cooler heads at least seem tobe prevailing in the House,” White House spokesman Jay Carneytold reporters. Carney also cautioned that the White House hasyet to see details of the Republican proposal.


What do you study? trazodone 15 mg JPMorgan has also faced additional pressure from a powermarket manipulation scandal in California and the Midwest, withreports suggesting the bank will soon pay a near record $410million settlement with the U.S. Federal Energy RegulatoryCommission (FERC).


Excellent work, Nice Design desyrel zoloft Leading conservatives have sworn to stand by their campaign promise not to increase taxes. The SPD campaigned on a platform of tax hikes for top earners to fund improvements in infrastructure and education.


I really like swimming buy provera Because the throwback jersey and the Bucs’ current color scheme (pewter and white helmets) are so different, the team said it had no choice. They could put a Bucco Bruce decal on their current pewter helmets — the NFL doesn’t want players to change helmets after they’ve already been fitted for them — but are too fashion concious to wear mismatched uniforms.


I’d like to pay this in, please buy provera online 24hr Livemodding challenge endtered its last stage, while German Casemod Championship, in which participants from all over the world will compete for the title of champion case modification designer. Voting among general members of public will determine the result. Cosplay Village and Gamescom congress held smaller events throughout the day.


Hold the line, please Cholesterol Zetia NEW YORK – Billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen’s hedge fund pleaded not guilty on Friday to insider trading charges in federal court, as investors in the roughly $15 billion fund awaited word on plans for the fund’s future.


How long are you planning to stay here? Zetia Hair Loss The Bank of England keeps on reassuring U.K. businesses that interest rates are set to stay at record lows until at least 2016. Markets suggest investors think the big day will come much sooner. But as long as the high street seems steady and the economy reasonably robust, that may not be such a big deal for the central bank.


I’m a partner in doxycycline hyclate 100 mg Gyssling and the Nazis wielded such power big studios complied even as the German market withered, because they feared they wouldn’t be allowed back when the economy improved. The movie producers’ courage only returned when the ongoing war threatened distribution in England and France, two other big foreign markets.


Have you got a telephone directory? doxycycline 100 mg capsule According to website Gawker, Robertson said to co-host Terry Meeuwsen on Tuesday’s “700 Club” “You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there, they want to get people so if they got (AIDS) they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger. Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”


What sort of music do you listen to? bactrim 500 mg That Will had his own source and had been monitoring the same story this whole time—while purposefully being kept out of the loop by his own team—effectively undid his value as a Red Team “fresh eyes” scrutinizer, but also confirmed the possibility that this all actually happened. If anyone’s got a mind for plausibility, it’s Will, especially now that he seems to be moving past the need for viewer acceptance. But a degree of his support for Mac and Charlie could have been influenced by having prior knowledge, thanks to this unknown “better than POTUS” source of his. Imagine if he’d truly come in without any exposure to the scandal whatsoever—his reaction would’ve been like Jim’s, but multiplied by 10 billion. He’d have sussed out the doctored interview footage, fired Dantana, and been home in time to spark a J and take in the Berkeley-UCLA game. Ultimately, though, being up to speed with the rest of the gang puts just as much blame on his shoulders for this “institutional failure,” and even though it’s a potentially career-ending situation, it further endears him to the people in his life who actually care about him on a personal level. 


I came here to study abilify coupon In Thursday’s filing, the first public disclosure of financial figures, Twitter reported that revenue almost tripled to $316.9 million in 2012. In the first half of 2013, it posted revenue of $253.6 million but had a loss of $69.3 million.

Join the conversation...