Alcohol: a guide for perplexed MPs


The House of Commons Library has published a good summary of the alcohol statistics. There will be few surprises there for regular readers of Straight Statistics who must be now be weary with my obsession with the habitual failure of politicians to take any notice of what these statistics actually tell them.

But I can’t resist reproducing the chart below, which traces the prevalence of binge-drinking among 18-24 year-olds since 1998. Tons of evidence there, I think you’ll agree, to justify David Cameron’s distortion of the market by setting minimum prices for alcohol.

Still, I suppose if you are going to set a target, it’s best to choose one that is well on the way to achievement already. Then you can claim credit whether your policy works or not, and nobody is any the wiser.

Cameron’ plan will, if implemented, make a bit of a hole in the Scottish Government’s intention of measuring the success of its own minimum pricing legislation by comparing it against England and Wales. If we’re both doing it, there won’t be a comparator left.

My only quibble with the HoC note is that it starts by saying “alcohol misuse is a significant and increasing problem in contemporary society”. Significant certainly but “increasing” seems to contradict much of what follows.


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