The neo-prohibitionist’s favoured uncritical press-release reporter, the BBC News website, tells us we are drinking less. The amount of people buying alcohol from an off-license in the past year has dropped from 37% in 1998 to 27% in 2009 and we are drinking less in pubs and bars. If it were an enlightened reporter writing this story he/she would be bemoaning the state of our dwindling off-trade industry and decrying the sadly dying pub industry. However, instead we must worry about a less than 1% increase in the number of nebulously-defined alcohol ‘related’ deaths (it takes a few years for this number to track a decreasing alcohol consumption level) and be told, once again, that the government is planning a new anti-drink advert.
I was pleased that the story reported that the average consumption of alcohol by manual workers (10.6 units a week) was less than for professional workers (13.8 units a week). We are normally told, in quite patronising terms, that drinking is disproportionately a working class problem. This data would suggest that it is not so much a class problem, more a problem for a tiny sub-set of the whole population. It is these people who specifically need targeting rather than demonising all drinkers and attempting to de-normalise alcohol for the majority of healthy drinkers.