Is setting a minimum price on alcohol a good idea?

Most people already seem to think that alcohol is pretty expensive…but is this really such a bad thing? There is an increasing number of young people binge drinking in the United Kingdom, and it shows no signs of slowing down…but could raising the prices of alcohol be the answer? It may not solve everything, but studies show that it most certainly would help.

In fact, the government HAS proposed to set a minimum price for alcohol: 45p per unit. Research has shown that even this could lead to up to 2,000 fewer deaths per year!

In some stores, cans of lager have been previously sold for as little as 20p per can, and 2-for-1 deals on 2L bottles of cider and wine are not uncommon. As such deals often attract teenagers with little money, raising the prices is very likely to have a large impact, decreasing the amount of alcohol they are able to buy with their limited budget, thus reducing binge-drinking and therefore lowering the death toll.

But the big question is: how high do we raise the prices? Research has shown that raising alcohol by as much as 40p per unit could potentially decrease the alcohol death rate by as much as 10%, and increasing the price by as much as 70p per unit could decrease the alcohol death rate by up to 60%…so how much do we increase the price before it goes too far?

Similarly, how can we be sure that increasing the price of alcohol will have any effect at all? Surely people will still find a way to get their hands on alcohol, even if it means it is acquired illegally. There is no doubt that crime levels would soar as more people turned to shoplifting as a way to get the alcohol they couldn’t afford.

So…what do YOU think?

Why do teenagers drink alcohol?

Recently, the news has been flooded with stories related to teenagers and alcohol. This leaves many people asking: why? Why do teenagers drink alcohol? Well, as a 16 year old teenager of today, I will do my best to explain.

In the UK, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy, or try to buy alcohol from a pub or a store (with the exception of 16-17 year olds accompanied by an adult who are permitted to buy beer or wine with a table meal). Young people caught drinking in public can have their alcohol taken away from them, and may even be fined or arrested. However, it is not illegal for teenagers to drink alcohol whilst in their own home or at a friend’s house. Although this is fine in moderation, many teenagers find themselves exceeding the recommended limits.

In fact, in the UK, more than eight out of ten fifteen year olds, and five out of ten eleven to twelve year olds already claim to have tried alcohol. But why?

Teenagers drink for a variety of different reasons which may be misunderstood by people outside their own peer group.

One of the things that attracts teenagers to alcohol is the idea that by drinking,  they are taking a risk which can provide them with a thrill, as they are underaged and so are not legally supposed to be drinking. As they are still young and inexperienced, in most cases they do not fully know what will happen when experimenting with alcohol, leading to curiosity. As teens are still developing, they often act impulsively to such curiosity, without considering the potential consequences of their actions.

Many teens also drink in order to try and relieve stress. Many times, teenagers may find themselves overcome with school work, relationship issues and other personal problems. By drinking, they may find that these problems temporarily disappear, which may cause them to turn to the substance more and more often as they try to relax and get away from reality.

As many adults often drink an alcohol around their families, their children may associate it with something which is for adults only. Therefore, by drinking it themselves, they may feel older and more mature, as they are at an age where they do not want to be viewed as a child anymore.

Lastly, and possibly one of the largest reasons for teenagers drinking is drinking in order to  fit in with their peers, as they crave acceptance. Many believe that drinking alcohol will make them seem more ‘cool’ in front of their friends, and will improve their social status. As they are with their friends, they don’t have to worry about their parents finding out, which gives them a sense of freedom. As they are still young, many teens will not have experienced this much freedom before, and so they may take advantage of it by doing things that they wouldn’t normally be allowed to do if their parents were there, such as drinking alcohol.

Many teenagers are also peer pressured into drinking alcohol by their friends, and they may be teased or mocked if they refuse. As a person’s self-esteem is often quite vulnerable during their teenage years, this can have quite a large impact on them as they struggle to fit in, and many give into peer pressure in order to be accepted by those around them.

Government seek good practice approach to underage drinking

Every local authority is being sent a good practice guide to help them tackle underage drinking.

Policies involving police,trading standards, youth and childrens services have been developed.

Additional funding is also being targeted at youth crime action plan areas to fund police enforcement and detection, with many police forces and councils now being funded for the purchase of instant alcohol detection tests, simple dip tests which can be used to detect alcohol disguised in other liquids on the streets. Alcohol dip tests with IVDD saliva capability can also then test a saliva sample to indicate the actual blood alcohol concentration.

How does a drink driving conviction affect your life ?

About 10 years ago I worked with a man who received a drink driving conviction and was banned from driving for 12 months. He was a professional man and well respected in the local community, and  a car was essential for his job.

It was one of those silly things. His teenage daughter had gone out with friends into the local town for the evening, and was coming back with her friends-another parent was supposed to be picking them up. He settled in for the evening with his wife, the TV and had a few of bottles of beer. About 9pm he got a phone call from his daughter-she had a teenage crisis and needed picking up immediately. Both he and his wife had been drinking. he thought he was OK and anyway the roads were quiet, and were mainly country roads into the town.

He set off. He had not reached the town when he was stopped by a police car, who had been following him on the empty country road for some time. Although he was not aware of it, something about his driving alerted the police man. He may have been speeding as he was worried about his daughter (it was winter & dark & cold)-teenagers ! He was not aware the police car was following him until he saw the flashing blue lights-he just thought it was another car in the dark.

The police car pulled him over and he was breathalysed and found to be well over the limit. He had still not retrieved his daughter and had to ring his wife to arrange for a friend to go a pick his daughter up. (valuable lesson here-when your teenagers are out one of you should refrain from drinking that night, in case you have to retrieve them quickly)

He was taken to a police station, and given a blood test which found he was well over the limits and he was prosecuted.

How did losing his license affect his life:

  • very stressful
  • embaressing for him-having to explain to people why he could not drive
  • inconvenient-he had to wait for other people to drive him around
  • expensive-as he drove every day with his job he had to hire a full time chaffeur

These are inconveniences-imagine the affect on his lfe if he had had an accident or injured or killed someone because of his drink driving

He learned a valuable lesson, and fortunatley no one was injured.

Make sure you THINK before you drink and drive

Alcohol Testing Strips-quick and easy way to check if under age drinkers are drinking alcohol

Alcohol testing strips are a quick and easy way to test if a fluid contains alcohol.

Designed originally to test saliva for the presence of alcohol, they can also be used to test any fluid for the presence of alcohol.

One particularly good use has been the testing of soft drinks for the presence of alcohol. Police forces across the country have been using alcohol test strips for this purpose now for several years, with excellent results. They can also be used at youth clubs, discos etc.

The alcohol test strips are individually foil wrapped and can easily be carried in a pocket. The strips are very simple & easy  to use . Simply dip the alcohol test strip into the liquid that is being tested and a pad on the strip changes colour if alcohol is present.

Contact us for wholesale prices on alcohol test strips

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