More Government Intervention: It’s Good For You!

Last week UK regulators announced that they intend to put health warning labels on wine.

The powers that be seem to feel that the masses of binge drinkers that fill the pubs and streets of the UK on weekend nights will suddenly put down their glasses if they realize that drinking to excess is bad for your health.

The UK binge drinking phenomenon is a product of fundamental social problems. It is not due to the broad availability of alcohol. Warnings and ever increasing taxes will not remedy the problem. It will not cure the breakdown of the nuclear family or the fact that in the UK, public drunkenness is socially acceptable.

Cigarette smokers and drug abusers prove that people are happy to trade off a bit of hard-to-perceive ill health for some narcissistic self indulgence. A better message would be for the government to use respected members of popular culture to communicate: Only losers stagger down the street senselessly drunk. If the government advertised that alcohol causes impotence (like the cigarette folks did in the US), then maybe a few of the mostly young male offenders would start to listen.

Visit Italy, France, Spain. Public drunkenness is not the problem that it is in the UK, primarily because it is socially unacceptable. Change the acceptability in the UK and the problem takes care of itself.

BTW- UK industry folk, don’t worry, “health warnings” have been required on US labels for years and it has had no negative effect on the business. In fact all of the “wine is good for your health” buzz was generated after warnings were put on the labels.


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