Saturday, October 06, 2012

Alcohol Policy

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. Apparently researchers have predicted that minimum pricing for alcohol could save lives. (Interestingly, one consequence of my delay is that I see the estimated figure was reduced from 50,000 to 11,500 on 28th September!)

These calculations are fraught with difficulty and I'm no social scientist, so I'm just going to accept these claims. What I find noticeable, however, is the seemingly implicit assumption that this would be a reason to introduce minimum pricing throughout the UK. It's not clear that this follows, even if the empirical predictions are correct.

I don't think the state should ban alcohol, even though it leads to deaths, so it's not clear that it should so restrict it either. (Certain restrictions, particularly regarding age, are, of course, appropriate.) For those interested, there's a forthcoming special issue of Contemporary Social Science on Alcohol, Public Policy and Social Science (see the call for papers here), in which I have a paper developing a Millian liberal view of minimum pricing. (I argue that Mill would be against it.)

1 comment:

  1. Adam Smith: "Were the duties upon foreign wines, and the excises upon malt, beer, and ale to be taken away all at once, it might, in the same manner, occasion in Great Britain a pretty general and temporary drunkenness among the middling and inferior ranks of people, which would probably be soon followed by a permanent and almost universal sobriety."