Sorry Whiskey Industry, Massive Alcoholism is Not a Public Virtue
It is not secret and it is not character condemnation to notice that in many parts of the world alcohol addiction is a serious social problem. Governments struggle with the issue because a free society allows people to consume alcoholic beverages, but a compassionate society tries to limit the damage they do.
In Scotland one solution was to set a minimum price for alcohol in order to prevent cheap drinks from encouraging people to drink more than they should. The industry reacted as expected.
In 2012, the semiautonomous Scottish government passed legislation that set a minimum price for all alcoholic beverages of 50 pence a unit. The alcohol industry attacked the law as illegal and ineffective, saying it wouldn’t stem heavy drinking but instead force responsible drinkers to pay more. Executives have expressed concern that laws passed in the home of Scotch could set an international precedent that could unleash a wave of regulation and crimp profits.
Yes, people would pay more, that is the point. And yes whiskey companies might make less money, which if they had just shred of decency they would accept as a penance for producing a product that literally destroys people. So they challenged the law, and glory be, they lost.
In a blow to big alcohol, the U.K.’s Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland can set a floor on beverage prices—a landmark decision that could set a precedent for other countries.
With the ruling, Scotland will become the first country to implement a per unit floor price for alcohol, which is meant to curb heavy drinking by boosting the price of the cheapest alcoholic beverages.
This is a nice win for those who support using market forces rather than regulation to curb a social ill. And it looks like the concept may spread, and if just one person is spared the horror of alcoholism well it would have been worth it.