Alcohol Pricing

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Alcohol pricing: Mulled whines | The Economist

http://www.economist.com/node/21591878/print

Alcohol pricing

Mulled whines
People are drinking less but doing so more harmfully. Policymakers want higher prices—causing a headache for the booze industry

Dec 21st 2013 | From the print edition
BY DAY tourists flock to Plaza de España in central Madrid to snap photos beside the sculpture of Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote”. By night a newer facet of Spanish culture is on display: loitering groups of young people downing plastic bottles of whisky and vodka mixed with Fanta Lemon. The ground is littered with empties. Nearby, three young men help a friend vomiting on the pavement. Such carousing was once rare in Spain. A Mediterranean drinking culture prevailed in which alcohol was taken only with food. That is changing. In Spain and many other rich countries, alcohol intake is becoming a bigger problem—for some groups. Overall, the global consumption of alcohol has been stable since 1990, according to the World Health Organisation. Around half of the planet’s population is teetotal. But those who drink alcohol do so more hazardously. Policymakers are looking for ways to address this. A new and much-watched experiment in Scotland, for example, involves setting a minimum price for each unit of alcohol. Individual consumption peaked in Spain in 1975 but young people are increasingly indulging in the botellón, (literally “big bottle”): drinking outdoors to get drunk. In France, another country with traditionally moderate drinking patterns, a similar trend is emerging. In the past three years hospital admissions from alcohol abuse have risen 30% there, to 400,000 a year. Bingeing is so common that in July it gained an official name, beuverie express. Across much of the rich world, many people (not just the young) are drinking greater quantities in a single session.…...

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