When has prohibition worked?

August 1st, 2012 at 7:08 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has suggested there will be further changes to rules on alcopops in liquor reforms due before Parliament.

The Reform Bill bans off-licence stores from selling ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs) with more than 6 per cent content and more than 1.5 standard drinks per container.

Mrs Collins this morning hinted that this could be amended.

“There will be a provision on RTDs, and that provision will be a bit different from what we did in May, just to make it more workable and more flexible to make it better able to react to any initiatives by the industry that might make it counter-productive to what we’re trying to do.”

I think it is initiatives by RTD drinkers they should worry about – specifically substitution to hard spirits.

Effectively what the Government is proposing is a limited form of prohibition or banning. It is saying it will be illegal to sell RTDs (at off-licenses) of greater than 6% alcohol. This is effectively abolishing certain types of drink. When in the history of humanity has such prohibition worked?

In the Law Commission report the reforms were based on, the commission said the most common drinkers of RTDs were 14 to 24-year-olds, in particular women.

I repeat. The Law Commission did not recommend any measures against RTDs specifically. This proposal is not based on the Law Commission report, but in fact goes against what they said, which was:

Despite these concerns, there are strong arguments why it is not feasible to ban or directly target RTDs. The risks associated with drinking RTDs are of no marked difference to any other alcohol product. It is likely that banning one type of alcohol product would simply lead to the development of alternative products by the alcohol industry. Some experts consider that young people would be likely to switch products in order to obtain cheap alcohol if measures were introduced to single out RTDs by increasing their price or removing them from the market.

Some of the products to which they may switch are arguably more likely to cause harm because of the high alcohol content, such as straight spirits mixed with other beverages.

On this issue the Law Commission is absolutely correct.

Tags:

15 Responses to “When has prohibition worked?”

  1. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    The Gin Act of 1751 had a significant impact on consumption by effectively banning small gin shops and retailers. So history tells us the best solution would be to ban all the small off-licences and seedy little “sports” bars that have popped up all over the place in recent years.

    But yeah, the 1751 Gin Act is an example of a form of prohibition working.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    Alcopops are specifically targeted to younger drinkers. They are sweet, cheap way to get drunk, especially young women. I guess when considering any regulation in this area we have to ask ourselves what mischief are we trying to deal with. For my part it is alcohol abuse. That is people who drink to excess to get drunk. The most effective way of addressing this issue is price. Make it expensive to get drunk across all forms of alcohol. And that means a very significant increase in the excise tax on alcohol – all kinds of alcohol not just the alcohol in alcopops. Anything less than that is fiddling with the problem. Having restricted hours for alcohol purchase and places of purchase are laughable in their ineffectiveness. It is too cheap to get drunk.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    I wonder if you could do something with taste? Make it compulsory for all alkie drinks to have a chemical additive that after 2-3 drinks makes it taste repulsive to the drinker – forced self control.

    I dunno if it is possible but might be an option.

    And if it forces folk into home brewing then good at least they are working to get drunk rather than getting it free and easy.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    and the first three comments are all about more state control.

    the govt should do nothing!

    alcohol on its own causes no harm. people who drink to excess cause harm. focus on the actual harm, ie people who due to overindulging commit actual crime.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. MT_Tinman (3,052 comments) says:

    This increasingly communistic government, typical of all National (led) government, can’t help itself. It must meddle in all peoples’ affairs.

    The energy spent working on this non-existent problem would be far better spent disposing of the racists.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    Don’t target the alcohol; target the way it is sold and how easy it is for underage drinkers to get hold of it. There are so many retail outlets that it would impossible to monitor them all and make sure that the retailers aren’t selling it to underage drinkers. The area I live in has two retail outlets very close together and one is very strict on I.D but the other one will serve anyone; I have seen this with my own eyes! I think there should be fewer retailers with better monitoring and zero tolerance of breaches; One strike and you loose your license! I also believe that there should be a hazardous recreational substance tax over and above gst where the money raised goes into education and rehab programs for those who have addiction issues; this way the end user is actually paying for it!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. CJPhoto (218 comments) says:

    Banning RTD would be stupid. “Back in my day” we use to buy a 1125 of vodka and a 2L of Sprite. I work that out at 14.5% alcohol if mixed evenly. My guess is it started out weaker at the start and gradually got stronger towards the end of the night.

    [DPF: That is exactly what still happens]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Yvette (2,745 comments) says:

    Some children found hitting their own younger brothers and sisters in school yards have, when asked by teachers what they are doing, said “Our mother told us to do it.” Apparently parents, who can be prosecuted for hitting their children, now get older brothers and sisters to do it for them. Nice, and Bradford didn’t see it coming.

    Why mention that on this thread ? – just seemed to have a little relevance

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Not that I would be in favour of prohibition but “capital P” Prohibition in the United States did work – or at least, the cliche that it didn’t work is an oversimplification. It did have some of the quantifiable and measurable social and public health benefits that were intended.

    Needless to say, the government was unprepared for the large scale exploitation of Prohibition by Capone and the like. But things are not as simple as bloggers like to suggest.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. kowtow (7,951 comments) says:

    Feminism and equality.

    Alcopops are girls drinks. Anything men do ,women should do. Women ( mostly) can’t drink pints so let’s invent a girlie drink.

    Isn’t progress just bloody marvellous?

    Banning booze……like all the rest of the growth in nannyism,tobacco ,parental discipline,what ever ……our pollies feel they must be seen to be doing something,anything, to show their care and concern…….where will it end?

    They are treating the symptoms of a crashing civilization.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. davidp (3,557 comments) says:

    We voted out the nanny state. And ended up with… (drum roll) another nanny state. What a dissapointment National have turned out to be.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    More crap from a crap government. Not much of a change between the two socialist brothers: Labour and Labour lite.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Grendel,

    alcohol on its own causes no harm. people who drink to excess cause harm…

    I have drunken to excess on occasion. Never harmed anyone (else).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. mawgxxxxiv (554 comments) says:

    Alcohol does cause significant harm. There are some cases where licensing laws contribute: who needs to be drinking at a bar all night and well into the morning.

    Changing attitudes to alcohol so that individuals make healthy choices and dealing with the psychological factors that can lead to alcohol abuse will have more impact but only by taking a long term approach. That requires vision and money.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. kowtow (7,951 comments) says:

    “That requires vision and money”.

    Our money but whose vision?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.