View previous topic | View next topic

Minimum alcohol pricing

Page 2 of 2
Goto page Previous  1, 2

GuyBarry
1261750.  Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:06 pm Reply with quote

L on earth wrote:

Regarding whether or not it'll work, there is a reasonable amount of evidence that MUP is effective, although population level measures are notoriously difficult to produce good evidence on.


The BBC is saying that "Scotland is to become the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing". Are they wrong, or is that report wrong?

Quote:
The potential for it to cause extra hardship for poorer families with a heavy drinker is a fair point, and it was my main reservation regarding the introduction of MUP.


If you're going to put up the price of alcohol as a health measure, then do it for everyone. Not just for poor people. Apparently the Scottish government's policy is now that it's OK to drink heavily as long as you can afford it.

 
L on earth
1261755.  Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:22 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
The BBC is saying that "Scotland is to become the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing". Are they wrong, or is that report wrong?


According to the WHO,
Quote:
Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine reported imposing a minimum retail price on alcoholic beverages...
and
Quote:
Emerging research findings on the minimum pricing systems in Canada show the first empirical evidence of the effectiveness of a minimum unit price. One study found that a 10% increase in minimum prices reduced overall consumption by an estimated 8.4%.


I can't speak for the exact nature of these regulations, and whether that makes the BBC article wrong, but either way there definitely appears to be a fair amount of evidence that MUPs can be effective.

GuyBarry wrote:
If you're going to put up the price of alcohol as a health measure, then do it for everyone. Not just for poor people. Apparently the Scottish government's policy is now that it's OK to drink heavily as long as you can afford it.


I think the main issue with that is that they can't impose a tax, so this is their only option for increasing prices. It's also worth noting that harm from alcohol disproportionately affects poorer people, regardless of how much you drink (although that is personal harm rather than societal, so I think there's definitely a fair anti-paternalism counter-argument to that point).

 
suze
1261758.  Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:18 pm Reply with quote

Canada is often mentioned in discussions about minimum unit pricing, but this often comes as a bit of surprise to Canadians. While Canada does have minimum unit pricing, most Canadians don't actually know this.

What we do have is a provincial monopoly on the sale of alcohol. Whereas in Britain you can buy alcohol from all manner of chain retailers and independent retailers in every town, in most of Canada you can only buy alcohol for consumption at home from liquor stores run by the provincial government.

The provincial government does of course set the prices charged in these stores, and Canadians do complain that these prices are massively higher than they would be in a free market. (Research suggests that in truth, "massively" is about 5%.)

But most people don't actually know that these prices incorporate a minimum pricing model; they just think that the government is inflating the prices simply because it can. (Which it is, of course.)

Being me, now let's have the exceptions to this general principle.

1. Nunavut is by choice fairly close to being dry. There are no liquor stores, but you can buy beer by mail order.

2. Outside Nunavut, in remote settlements where there is only one retail outlet that store generally sells alcohol - but it must buy its liquor from the state monopoly and sell it at their prices.

3. Alberta abolished its provincial monopoly in 1993, and you can buy alcohol in supermarkets. There is no minimum price.

4. Québec allows beer and cheap wine to be sold in supermarkets and dépanneurs (corner shops), and there is a minimum price for it. Dépanneur wine is notoriously awful; the provincial monopoly does apply to "vin de qualité", of which there is a pages-long definition. I don't know why, but supermarkets (although not dépanneurs) are allowed to sell vodka but not other hard liquor.

5. In Ontario, the state liquor monopoly has a competitor in the form of The Beer Store (owned by a consortium of breweries). It sells only beer, and sells it cheaper than the government stores - but you must go to the government stores for wine or hard liquor. Ontario is moving towards allowing beer sales in supermarkets, but this is a fairly new initiative and as yet it's only a small number of supermarkets.

6. Newfoundland. Is weird. Just for a change. Beer brewed in Newfoundland is not covered by the monopoly, and can be sold in shops (including gas stations). "Foreign" beer and stronger drink are supposedly covered by the provincial monopoly - but Newf likes to be a bit anarchic, and the police have to really dislike a shopkeeper before they actually "notice" that he's selling "foreign" beer. While Newf does have minimum pricing - and it applies in bars as well as at retail - it is set so low as to be practically irrelevant.

 
Jenny
1261776.  Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:02 pm Reply with quote

On my side of the pond, rules vary from state to state. Here in Maine we can buy alcohol in the supermarket, the way we can in England, but in our neighbour New Hampshire alcohol is only sold in official alcohol stores.

There is one of these stores not far from the other side of the Piscataqua bridge where the border between ME and NH is, and people in southern Maine are known to drive a few extra miles to buy alcohol in NH because there is a 6% sales tax in ME and none in NH.

Theoretically you are supposed to own up to the ME tax people on your tax form if you buy something from out-of-state without paying ME sales tax. Few people actually do that, so in recognition of this the state of Maine charges you a minimum tax in regard to that regardless of whether or not you've actually shopped out of state. Amazon now charges Maine sales tax on anything it sells you to a Maine address. :-(

 
dr.bob
1261826.  Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:30 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Personally I think it would have been better if the Scottish government had campaigned for alcohol duty to become a devolved issue, so that they could have imposed their own rates of duty.


The problem with raising duty is that it won't necessarily raise prices for the consumer. Supermarkets are well known to employ the "loss leader" tactic, where they sell goods at such a low price that, rather than making a profit, they're actually making a small loss every time they sell one. The reason why this strategy works is because, once people are through the door, they will tend to hang around and do the rest of their shopping in the same store, so the retailer benefits from the profits made on all the other things those people buy.

If the Scottish government had simply raised tax on alcohol, the supermarkets would've been free to still sell the booze cheaply if they thought that this made long-term economic sense. By imposing a minimum price, the retailers are forced to raise prices without question.

GuyBarry wrote:
I really don't see why private companies should benefit from a policy that's intended to improve public health.


That's simply an unintended consequence. No doubt the government could've tried to get them to donate any extra profits to charity or something, but it probably wouldn't have been too hard for the alcohol producers and retailers to come to some arrangement whereby these extra profits mysteriously disappeared.

 
dr.bob
1261831.  Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:42 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
I doubt whether people in Scotland are going to drink less because of this measure.


I guess time will tell.

GuyBarry wrote:
When you have an addiction, you find the money to fund that addiction, even if it means spending less on food, getting behind with the rent or even neglecting your children.


Not everyone in Scotland who drinks more than they should has an addiction. I suspect this policy is aimed more at encouraging people to drink less across the board, rather than specifically targeting people who have a serious drink problem.

I do wonder whether we'll start to see a rise in the number of alcohol vendors along the border to cater for people who live within an easy drive of England and want to stock up on cheap booze, much as we used to see near the ports in Calais.

 
crissdee
1261852.  Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:10 am Reply with quote

Or bootleggers? Or a rise in home brew sales?

 
Prof Wind Up Merchant
1263993.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:42 pm Reply with quote

If minimum pricing does come to the rest of the UK, I can see mass stock piling of cheap booze happening causing issues at supermarkets trying to keep stocks.

 
brunel
1264017.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:18 pm Reply with quote

Prof Wind Up Merchant wrote:
If minimum pricing does come to the rest of the UK, I can see mass stock piling of cheap booze happening causing issues at supermarkets trying to keep stocks.

Has there been any evidence of that happening elsewhere when trials of minimum pricing were run?

 
suze
1264023.  Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:09 pm Reply with quote

If we were to introduce minimum pricing for spirits alone that just might happen. Buy one hundred bottles of whisky and dump then in your cellar for ten years, and you will have one hundred bottles of whisky. This won't happen though, because whisky is already quite expensive and will not be affected by a minimum pricing policy.

The main target of a minimum pricing policy is beer and cider, and these beverages cannot be stockpiled because they don't last all that long. Dump one thousand cans of beer in your cellar for ten years, and you'll have enough vinegar to last several lifetimes.

 
barbados
1264040.  Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:38 am Reply with quote

I'd suggest the more likely outcome of such a policy would be a renaissance in home brewing.

 
crissdee
1264051.  Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:15 am Reply with quote

As I suggested upthread. And which reminded me of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwd_l9b6mO8

 

Page 2 of 2
Goto page Previous  1, 2

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group