Removing The Vices

The proposal to remove cigarettes from display in Britain’s shops reminds me of the shock my partner felt upon arriving from Australia in this country and finding that alcohol was to be found in ordinary supermarket aisles.losing standards

In Australia alcohol is kept very separate from the main supermarket often in its own pseudo mini off license and sometimes even with a turnstile to enter and exit with a notice that says anyone entering should be over a certain age.

Whilst I don’t have too many problems with an over authoritarian government (who, what, this government?) targeting the display of cigarettes , I would hope that attention would soon be focused on alcohol in a country that seems to have such a problem with its over consumption and where supermarkets can price it cheaper than bottled water.

So far though the government cannot control what influences  children are exposed to in the home and that’s really where smoking and alcohol consumption is often first encountered.

Photo by parvati under this creative commons license

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3 thoughts on “Removing The Vices

  1. As someone who struggled to give up smoking for years, I think it does help a little if it is made more difficult to buy cigarettes. I did occasionally succumb either when out, because the people I was with were smoking, or yes, when I was waiting at the cash desk in my local shop and saw the packets all lined up there waiting to be bought.

    Things are rather out of control with regard to the UK booze culture at the moment. Clearly if alcohol were as expensive as it is in Scandinavian countries, young people (well, all people) would find it too expensive to over-indulge on a regular basis. But in countries such as France and Spain young people do not see a night out as simply going out and getting bladdered and yet wine is cheap there. So the problem does seem to be one which arises in the home.

    I have no idea if I do the right things with regard to my own children. I hope so but am none too sure. I do drink wine with my dinner most nights, I also let them drink diluted wine if they ask (they are not allowed sweet soft drinks). But I drink in moderation because I have a responsibility to my children and we have talked often enough about the effects of alcohol and what it does to you physically and also in terms of making you lose your sense of what is acceptable behaviour. I think that in homes where children either see no alcohol consumed (and it therefore becomes mysterious and intriguing and something to be tried when the parents are not about) or where they regularly see their parents drunk, then it is difficult for children to know how to deal with alcohol.

    I am waffling and being incoherent, aren’t I?

  2. Not at all incoherent no. I think it’s one of those slightly warped parts of Brit culture as it has ‘developed’ over the last few decades. We collectively seem to spend, eat ,drink and indulge in other pleasures in slightly self destructive and dysfunctional ways. I can’t work out if it’s just because as a culture we’re unhappy and find it hard to relax or maybe we have a large irresponsible streak. The home culture is not everything. It can easily be swamped by the wider culture messages. I find the widespread desire to get wasted on alcohol puzzling unless an awful lot of people just can’t be themselves any other way (which is a worrying thought).Were we always like this?

  3. I don’t believe that the fact that supermarkets sell booze and sell it cheaply has much to do with what is perceived as “the alcohol problem”. Rather, because government doesn’t know how to tackle this problem, it makes one up that it can tackle, i.e. it can have a go at limiting sales of alcohol. This is a mere gesture at the problem.

    Why we have an “alcohol problem” in Britain is because we have a culture of alcoholic excess. We still consider it heroic to drink large quantities of booze and males in particular boast of their “capacity”. The result is that chemical dependency and cultural pressures go hand in hand. If we are serious about “solving” the problem, then we need to break this cycle.

    British people, especially young people, don’t seem able to enjoy themselves without being under the influence. Drunkenness is the indispensable companion to a night out, to watching a football match, to travel, to “going on the pull”, etc. There is a long history of this going all the way back to the Angles, Saxons and Danes who were frequently roaring drunk when beating up the locals.

    Increasing the price of booze, removing it from supermarkets, etc. are merely palliatives. They won’t make any real difference. If alcohol-dependent teenagers afford buy booze from shops, they will get it elsewhere. There will always be people to supply them.

    What we need to do is change the culture of booze. This is difficult to do and the government shrinks from it, perhaps afraid of losing face if it fails. It has made a start in changing the culture of smoking and ought to take heart from that. The message needs to be put across is that getting drunk is despicable, not heroic. It will be a long and uphill struggle.

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