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The Public Health Racket

8 February 2012

3:00 PM

8 February 2012

3:00 PM

A fine catch by Tim Worstall who rightly scoffs at this passage in today’s Telegraph report on the (Westminster) government’s plans to "tackle" alcohol consumption:

[M]inisters are expected to unveil measures to increase the price of alcoholic drinks according to how strong they are. This could be done through higher taxation per unit, minimum pricing per unit or simply higher levels of duty for strong drinks. Ministers will also encourage companies to produce weaker alcoholic drinks.
Prime Minister David Cameron is known to have sympathy with the idea of minimum pricing, which medics say could save nearly 10,000 lives per year if set at 50p per unit.

Emphasis added. As Tim reminds us, the Office for National Statistics reported there were, officially-speaking, 9,031 "alcohol-related" deaths in Britain in 2008 and so these mysterious "medics" appear to be suggesting that increasing the price of liquor will "save" more lives than are "claimed" by drink every year. This seems mildly improbable. 

Granted, the 2008 number of said alcohol-related deaths (a wonderfully inexact term, incidentally) was a slight increase on the figure for 2007 but, rather more importantly, should be considered in the context of an overall reduction in the amount of hard stuff Britons are putting away each year. Of course, reductions in drinking show the need for more regulation just as surely as an increase in booze consumption would "prove" more must be done.

Menwhile, I notice that Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and a nagging reminder that "open primaries" do not guarantee better MPs, is at it again:

"If a jumbo jet laden with passengers crashed over Britain every fortnight we would see some pretty drastic action. This is what we’re talking about with alcohol," she said.

There is still time for her rivals to supplant her but Dr Wollaston, notionally a Tory, is the current front-runner for Wally MP of the Week.

UPDATE: See Dick Puddlecote and Chris Snowdon for more. 


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