Alcohol becoming socially unacceptable?

Following a news article on BBC web site about a charity lobbying to prevent children drinking at home, I actually got one of my comments published on Page 35 of the Have Your Say section.

My comment is that I am worried that now the moral brigade have been succesful making smoking in public places socially unacceptable that alcohol will be their next target.

We already have the situation where many areas of town centers are alcohol free. In Oxford most of the city center and some of the parks are already like this. The purpose of this was to try to get the homeless drunks and beggars to move out of the center to make it nicer for other people, but in reality it just pushed them further out into other parts of town, thus doing nothing about the core problem (alcoholism and homelessness). Instead it punishes us ordinary people who are not allowed to wander around a pictuoresque town and have a little picnic in a park, accompanied by a bottle of wine or beer.

The point of the charity lobbying to make it illegal for children to have any alcohol at home is to try and stem the problem of teenage binge drinking. However, this solution again does not fix the core problem and instead penalises the ordinary person.

When I was young we used to have a glass of diluted wine with our Sunday dinner… we did not turn into teenage alcoholics. Instead it made us aware about alcohol at an early age, so that when we were legally allowed to drink at 18, we didn’t feel the need to rush out and start binge drinking. Teenagers are still going to go out and obtain alcohol somehow, but outside of the security of their own home and family.

I understand that in America where the legal age is 21, it is worse, with probably most students breaking the law while at college. When ordinary people end up breaking the law doing things that the majority of people would think morally acceptable, then you lose respect for the law and start breaking other laws, relying on your moral instinct instead of the actual law.

There are many other situations where the remedy for a problem has been to punish ordinary people without helping at all to cure the real problem, examples are:

  • Speed Cameras: It is not a careful person driving at 38mph in a 30mph area with good visibility that kills people… Careful drivers will slow down if they see a potential hazard, or the road conditions require it. The killers are the boy racers, teenagers who steal cars, tired drivers, drunk drivers and generally people driving without due care and attention.
  • Metal barriers on footpaths: I think these are there to prevent motorcyclists from going down alleyways and footpaths… but all it really does is make it difficult for people with bicycles, prams, wheelchairs, luggage. I am often tempted to carry a hacksaw and chop these things down. The real solution would be better signposting followed up with random covert monitoring with serious on the spot fines for motorcyclists caught doing it. After a few well publicised cases of people getting fined and their motorbike confiscated it should remove the problem.

Anyway… where was I. About alcohol becoming socially unacceptable… Drink driving attitudes have changed a lot over the last 5 years or so. Many people now take the attitude of not driving after ANY drink. This means that many country pubs have either closed down, or turned into restaurants. In reality, drinking a small amount within a certain timescale, is going to have less affect than driving tired or under stress.

To summarize… while I appreciate that binge drinking and alcoholism is a bad thing, I do not think that banning children being able to be given a glass of diluted wine at home is going to do anything about the problem, and is likely to make it more likely that teenagers will drink illegally outside the home and become binge drinkers when they reach 18.

4 thoughts on “Alcohol becoming socially unacceptable?

  1. A news story tells of a 27 year old who had a photo of herself on myspace allegedly drunk denied her teaching degree just before she graduated.

    This seems a good example of how alcohol is being portrayed as socially unacceptable. The picture in question is a simple photo of her drinking something out of a cup with a pirate hat on at a Halloween party. It is absurd to expect that adult-aged teachers are not allowed to have a drink or two at a party.

  2. Yet more… ‘No alcohol in pregancy’ advised.

    Despite no evidence that a few units of alcohol per week causes any problems. The only real evidence of foetal damage is from excessive binge drinking.

    The article itself says The Department of Health said the revision was not based on new scientific evidence This is all part of some part of society trying to make alcohol socially unacceptable.

  3. Hmmm. Lots of thoughts there.

    I am with you on the desirability of kids learning about alcohol sensibly in a family environment being less likely to go off the rails later.

    When I started driving 30 years ago I was unusual in not drinking at all if I was driving, and I have always stuck to that. Far easier not to start than have to decide when to stop, and I do reckon that even 1 unit would have a noticeable effect on me.

    It is ironic that 24hr licensing has coincided with restrictions on public drinking, when the problem is actually public drunkeness.

    A recent press report reckoned that there was a “danger zone” for men drinking 25-50 units per week. I was pleased to advise a friend of “mature” years that at 70 units per week he was clearly out of the danger zone. He does have regular checks for liver damage and none has shown up. He just has the right enzymes.

    Trouble with people doing 38 in a 30 limit is that most people don’t realise that the braking distance is 60% longer at 38 than it is at 30 (ratio of the squares) and get a false impression of safety. Good thing there are those metal barriers to protect prams from them 😉

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