Cheap alcohol’s unhappy hour

A Government report calls for legislation to set a fixed price on alcohol in a bid to encourage sensible drinking. 

 

THE HOME AFFAIRS Select Committee has issued a report damning supermarkets and pub ‘happy hours’ for selling cheap alcohol, often at a loss. The report calls for legislation to set a fixed price on alcohol in a bid to encourage sensible drinking. 

The report states that the legislation “should include a ban on drinks promotions and measures to ensure responsible labelling and staff training.” The recommendations come as official figures show that almost half the victims of violent crime allege that their attacker was under the influence of alcohol. Critics emphasised that the amount of police time devoted to dealing with alcohol-related crime was too high. The figures also reveal that in one year alone, £1.7billion was spent by the Home Office on handling alcohol-related crime.

Professor Mike Saks, Senior Pro Vice Chancellor with responsibility for the SU and the Student Experience at the University of Lincoln, said: “Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead students into unsafe or anti social behaviour, which can be damaging socially, academically and emotionally — and have long term consequences in terms of health and well being. We would support any actions which can be taken, locally and nationally, to encourage all retailers of alcohol to act responsibly and not to target students with unhelpful and unsafe drinks promotions.”

Many Lincoln students take advantage of cheap alcohol promotions in bars and supermarkets. Frequently, deals are specifically targeted at the student market with alcoholic beverages sold for as little as £1 each. 

Vicky Wieczerzynska, Welfare and Liaison Officer at the SU, believes that the problem goes further than cheap drinks. She said: “I think it’s the culture of today, with more people going out and socialising with their friends rather than staying in and watching the television or going to the cinema.” 

Wieczerzynska was also concerned that if bar and club prices escalated too high, students may search for a “cheaper alternative to alcohol”. She was, however, in favour of controls on alcohol prices so that “people don’t binge drink excessively damaging their health and their studies,  and that there is a healthy retail industry not competing drastically with each other, where if they can’t compete it would result in that pub or club closing down”.

Chris Martin of the Mezz Bar in Lincoln was also keen to see fairer competition within the city. He said: “If everybody in the city was on the same fixed price it would be fair all around, because there are certain venues that put on less than £1 drinks offers. On a mass scale you can compete against them if you’ve got a big capacity as you can sell a higher volume, but if you’ve got a small capacity you can’t.” 

Mr Martin was pessimistic as to whether this would help to solve binge-drinking. He stated: “No matter what the price is people will still drink.”

Dean West, 2nd year Media Production student, doesn’t believe that fixing alcohol prices would prevent binge drinking, or any of the problems surrounding it. He said: “People surely will still binge drink, whatever the price is. They’ll still get that kick out of it.”

One Response to Cheap alcohol’s unhappy hour

  1. Sheila Joyce Gibbs says:

    Good idea! A nation wide price increase would be an excellent idea, although, having said that, I wonder. Society appears to be losing jobs, abandoning children, pets and generally all responsibilities…

    And lets not forget our apparent over indulgence with cell phones! I mean, we can’t afford to pay our mortgages? But we still must have a cell phone and beer? Good luck with this one…