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    I have a better idea. Instead of demonising and abusing people who drink, why not look at European countries (France, Switzerland, etc) where alcohol is cheaper, easier to buy and consumed in greater quantities and figure out why they don’t have the problems we do.

    I lived in Zurich for years. It was not uncommon to see groups of 16 and 17 year olds jumping onto trams with 6-packs of beer (and drinking one on the way home). Parks on a sunny day would be full of people drinking beer, wine, and sometimes even spirits. I never, ever felt even slightly in danger, even at 3am in their equivalent of Kings Cross surrounded by dozens of intoxicated people.

    The alcohol, its price and ease of access to it are not the problems.

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    Correct comment. There are actually 2 separate issues: excessive alcohol consumption, and alcohol-fuelled violence. The latter does not necessary follow from the former unless certain other conditions exist. Sad to see that the 7-point plan includes no suggestions about changing the social culture around drinking, the role models who can influence this, the physical environments in which drinking occurs (compared to, say, a British ‘local’), or the skewed economics of licensed premises in which the cost of non-alcoholic drinks is artifically inflated to keep the cost of alcohol low. By all means come down hard on licensing, but there will always be more who get away with it than who are caught — hence the recent case in Canberra of man who attacked and nearly blinded another man after having drunk 20 schooners of beer at one local bar.

  3. 3

    Doctor Whom

    I like Jason’s idea – I would like to be given a grant to not sell alcohol. At last a role for Medicare Locals – not selling alcohol.

  4. 4

    Shakeshaft Anthony

    Hi all, it’s Anthony here – my first go at online blogging or whatever this is so be patient with me! Of course I agree that not all drinking leads to violence and not all violence is associated with alcohol. But the balance of evidence clearly shows these two things are related: it’s not a question of absolutes but a question of probabilities and the evidence says that the more alcohol is consumed the higher the likelihood there is of alcohol related harm (violence, assaults, street offences etc). I also agree some European countries have different drinking cultures which means the relationship between drinking and violence may be different there, but they are not problem free – they just have different types of alcohol-related problems, like higher rates of drink driving and diseases from drinking too much too frequently (as opposed to accidents and injuries and violence from being drunk).

    I disagree with Margo that the 7 point plan does not target the social culture around drinking. I think one of the most effective ways to change the drinking culture is to tighten up the access, price and advertising of alcohol. I think those things will help change the drinking culture, which is exactly what happened with RBT and drink driving – new legislation was introduced, everyone complained that it was a violation of civil liberties but it resulted in a significant drop in alcohol related traffic crash deaths and injuries. So there’s an example of legislation changing drinking culture.

    I am very intrigued by the idea of paying people not to sell alcohol – that’d be an interesting trial to see if it works!

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    I disagree with Margo that the 7 point plan does not target the social culture around drinking. I think one of the most effective ways to change the drinking culture is to tighten up the access, price and advertising of alcohol.

    Yes. Prohibition was certainly a rousing success in America.

    The rest of your commentary seem equally poorly thought out and devoid of critical analysis. What really stands out, however, is that your #1 point is to “take an evidence based approach”, after which you promptly do the exact opposite.

    Where is your evidence supporting items 2, 3 and 4 given, as already mentioned, there are numerous countries in Europe with more easily accessible, extensively advertised and low-taxed alcohol ?

    Why do I get the feeling you’re just another prohibitionist ? This country already has some of the tightest laws and highest costs related to alcohol in the western world. On what basis are you arguing tightening the screws a little bit more will make a difference, when there is so much evidence demonstrating access to and cost of alcohol clearly play minor, if any, roles ?

    The fundamental problem is violence, not alcohol. Alcohol is just a catalyst.


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