Most people are aware that if they smoke too much, drink too much, eat too much and exercise too little they will become unhealthy.
The question that successive governments have been asking is “What can we do about it?”
The Scottish Government is grappling with the problem by trying to put an end to cheap alcohol.
The English Government has plans for something similar.
But does this really make sense? Or is it just another means of governments obtaining tax revenue from those who find it difficult to help themselves?
Dr No is a medical blogger that I follow. He writes about a variety of things under the theme of “Bad Medicine.” He has a particular interest in epidemiology and frequently challenges some ideas being promoted by the medical establishment and by governments.
He’s doing it now in his recent post:
COUNTRY : UK
As a doctor interested in epidemiology, Dr No has naturally focused on the science for and against the effectiveness of minimum pricing as a means to reduce heavy drinking: and he is not in the slightest bit convinced that a case has been made. Others have pointed out the libertarian objections, and then there is the regressive nature of any such policy: the poor will be disproportionately hit. And – if Dr No is correct, and minimum pricing will have precious little effect on heavy drinkers – then there may turn out to be serious adverse consequences. Heavy drinkers will continue to drink heavily, but will spend more, and amongst poorer heavier drinkers, that can only mean less to spend on other things: less to spend on food, on their children, and their children’s food.
And then – to add insult to injury – the extra cash raised (note that the negative elasticities mean that sales will decline by less than the increase in price, such that overall turnover will increase) by minimum pricing will, unlike tax revenues, go mostly into the pockets of the supermarkets and drinks manufacturers. Small wonder, then, that some supermarkets and drinks manufacturers are putting their weight behind minimum pricing.
The primary modelling reports on which both the Scottish and Westminster governments rely on appear deeply flawed, and the likely unintended consequences of minimum pricing for alcohol are all too predictable. It seems to Dr No that instead of good government tending to good people, we have sick politicians tending to sick notions.
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