We have several types of drugs at work in our community. We have the good ones the ones that help us lead healthier, longer lives; the desirable ones e.g. tea and coffee, and then we have the the bad ones.
There are varying degrees of 'bad' in this group, but they all have one thing in common; they degrade our society. They come with a huge social and economic cost, and almost without exception, they are illegal.
But one drug, the one drug of this group that has by far the highest cost, is perfectly legal. That drug is alcohol.
Alcohol causes us more grief than the combined effect of all of the illicit drugs. Used in moderation it's a socially acceptable, relatively harmless drug but used to excess, it's a scourge on all of us.
Quite apart from the emotional and physical trauma it causes assaults, carnage on the roads, domestic violence, relationship break-ups, etc. there's the economic cost, and that's where there may be a way of reducing the problem.
Think about the extra tax dollars that are called on to cover the costs associated with the abuse of alcohol.
Policing, the justice system, incarcerations, hospitalisation and rehabilitation, work absenteeism, to name just some.
Sure, there is significant tax revenue raised by the sale of alcohol, but it should be more much more.
Making a product more expensive is a surefire way of reducing its consumption.
"User pays" is a concept that is widely accepted, so why not apply it to a product that is proven to be a malevolent force in our society?
Making it happen would be, in the words of Sir Humphery, "Very courageous, Minister", and I don't see it happening any time soon.
B. Judd, Birkdale