If councils can put a minimum price on alcohol, can they repeal the smoking ban?

August 02, 2010 7:05 PM

The Telegraph report that a number of local authorities around Manchester are planning to establish a minimum price for alcohol of 50p a unit.

I think that the problem with the proposal is that price is that price increases that could affect all drinkers are being used to try and stop a relatively small minority of problem drinkers.  A minimum price for alcohol will naturally hit the relatively poor hardest and this proposal would therefore be yet another government policy - along with the VAT hike, climate change policy and countless others - hitting the budgets of middle to low income families.

Those who are truly dependent - as opposed to the huge numbers who are defined as binge drinking by dodgy Government standards - are unlikely to be deterred by relatively slight changes in price.  But real addicts could turn to crime if they are unable to afford the alcohol they want.

It seems unlikely that these authorities have the power to impose a minimum price.

But if they've accepted the principle of these kinds of decisions being made locally, then the "health campaigners" quoted in the article would have to accept the other side of the coin.  What if a local authority wants to actually help its pubs - rather than offering the meaningless gesture of a Pubs Minister that David Miliband castigates the Government for abandoning - then would they be allowed to repeal the smoking ban in their area?

Real localism has to be able to reduce regulation and tax as well as increase it.

The Telegraph report that a number of local authorities around Manchester are planning to establish a minimum price for alcohol of 50p a unit.

I think that the problem with the proposal is that price is that price increases that could affect all drinkers are being used to try and stop a relatively small minority of problem drinkers.  A minimum price for alcohol will naturally hit the relatively poor hardest and this proposal would therefore be yet another government policy - along with the VAT hike, climate change policy and countless others - hitting the budgets of middle to low income families.

Those who are truly dependent - as opposed to the huge numbers who are defined as binge drinking by dodgy Government standards - are unlikely to be deterred by relatively slight changes in price.  But real addicts could turn to crime if they are unable to afford the alcohol they want.

It seems unlikely that these authorities have the power to impose a minimum price.

But if they've accepted the principle of these kinds of decisions being made locally, then the "health campaigners" quoted in the article would have to accept the other side of the coin.  What if a local authority wants to actually help its pubs - rather than offering the meaningless gesture of a Pubs Minister that David Miliband castigates the Government for abandoning - then would they be allowed to repeal the smoking ban in their area?

Real localism has to be able to reduce regulation and tax as well as increase it.

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