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This is a spare 'blog in case my main 'blog at markwadsworth.blogspot.com isn't working
From The Metro:
Ecuador has temporarily banned alcohol as an emergency measure after 12 people died drinking contaminated bootleg liquor. (1)
Initially the ban was restricted to the coastal municipality of Urdaneta in Los Rios province, where over 100 people have been treated for intoxication (2) from drinking adulterated alcohol.
A 72-hour nationwide dry law prohibiting the sale or consumption (3) of alcohol was subsequently introduced yesterday, after alcohol poisoning cases were detected in at least four other areas across the country. (4)
1) High duties on spirits -> bootlegging, see Pub Curmudgeon for a lengthier exposé. As VFTS points out in the comments, ban on sale of alcohol -> increase in sale of bootleg alcohol.
2) Isn’t that the whole point? To get intoxicated?
3) There’s nothing to suggest that beer or wine is similarly contaminated, but they’ve banned the ‘consumption’ of all alcohol in people’s houses? So I can’t finish off the last few cans from a multi-pack or a bottle of wine which so far hasn’t killed me? How are they going to enforce that, then?
4) Could they not just publish the brand names used by the bootleggers and leave it to people to decide for themselves?
What were they trying to hide on the left hand side?
I was tasked with freeing up a bit of space on our Freeview-recorder-box-thingy, and I watched that programme (a fair summary of which is here) one last time before deleting it for good.
The most outrageous claim they made was that ‘alcohol consumption costs society £16.2 billion a year’, and the most plausible one that people in the UK consume 52 billion units of alcohol a year.
But let’s run with that £16.2 billion ‘total cost’ figure, which divided by 52 billion units = £0.31/unit. Beer duty happens to be 18.57p/unit (from HMRC, a unit = 10 ml alcohol), so – for example – beer duty on a pint (568 ml x 4% ABV) = 2.272 units x £0.1857 = £0.42.
That’s just the beer duty though, what’s the average price people pay for a pint? 60p for a 440 ml can in the supermarket = £0.77/pint and (say) £3/pint in the pub. The average must be about £1 (that’s assuming 9 pints are drunk at home for every 1 in the pub), and out of that £1, 16.67 p is VAT, ergo total tax a on a pint is about £0.59 (£0.42 duty plus £0.17 VAT, stick on another fifth for PAYE on salaries of people working in breweries or alcohol retail, corporation tax etc) = £0.71, divide that by 2.272 = £0.31 tax/unit
£0.31 tax = £0.31 ‘total cost to society’, problem solved.
And I’m pretty sure they didn’t factor in the ‘benefit to society’ of all that boozing, which by definition is roughly equal to the total amount that people spend on booze, i.e. £23 billion*, which means that even by their reckoning, the net benefit to society is a princely £6 billion a year 🙂
* 52 billion units ÷ 2.272 units/pint = 23 billion pints, again assuming cost/pint £1 each.
BBC, 14 February 2011:The number of admissions to hospital in the UK because of problem drinking could rise to 1.5 million a year by 2015, a charity says.
Alcohol Concern estimates that it will cost the NHS £3.7bn annually if nothing is done to stop the increase… The charity says the number of people being treated in hospital for alcohol misuse has gone from 500,000 in 2002-3 to 1.1 million in 2009-10.
BBC, 26 May 2011:The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England has topped 1m for the first time, according to official statistics.
An NHS Information Centre report said admissions had increased by 12% between 2008/9 and 2009/10… The number of admissions reached 1,057,000 in 2009/10 compared with 945,500 in 2008/9 and 510,800 in 2002/3.
Well, the entirely made up figure may be up twelve per cent on the previous year, but at least it’s down by four per cent compared to the entirely made up figure of three months ago, eh?
Classic stuff, recited without trace of irony in The Telegraph (click and highlight to reveal):
Figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics showed that while the death rate from alcohol was lower among the most advantaged classes, such as lawyers and company bosses, it rose steadily from 9.8 deaths per 100,000 men aged 45-49, to 23.5 deaths aged 60 to 64.