It’s common knowledge that I’m against the idea of a ‘Nanny State’. I believe people should use their own initiative and make their own decisions in order to stay healthy, rather than being controlled by external rules and regulations. However, I do think there can be benefits of some regulation when it comes to alcohol.
A new law coming into force in Wales proposes a minimum price-per-unit on alcohol. It will make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below this fixed price and is a crackdown on the prevalence of dangerously cheap booze. I think this kind of regulation can only be a good thing. Putting a limit on how cheap alcohol can be will surely reduce the negative health effects of excess drinking, and the enormous associated costs.
It is estimated that there are 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions every year in Wales – a figure which costs the Welsh NHS £120 million annually. In 2015 there were 463 deaths caused by alcohol. So it’s indisputable that something needed to be done to address this dangerous and costly problem.
I have not seen the research but I think it is safe to assume that there must be at least some correlation between the availability of alcohol and the number of cases of excessive drinking. To reduce the availability – reduce the risk, it’s simple. But simply stopping people from accessing alcohol is not enough – and, as I said before, I don’t believe that a ‘Nanny State’ is the answer in addressing public health.
The answer is education. As well as limiting the amount of cheap alcohol available, it’s vital that children and teenagers are taught about the dangers of excessive alcohol and how to drink safely. As with so many things, knowledge is power – the more knowledge we can impart, the more we will empower the public to understand the risks of alcohol and take the necessary steps to keep healthy.