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« Hedonism, Noi and moi | Main | Shisha cafes face extinction »

The IPPR's brave new world

WineGlasses100.jpg Hats off to the Institute for Public Policy Research. New Labour's most influential think-tank knows how to attract publicity. Writing in the latest issue of Public Policy Research, the IPPR magazine, Observer columnist Jasper Gerrard says that Britain should consider raising the legal drinking age to 21. Failing that, he suggests making 18-year-olds carry smart cards "which record how much they have drunk each night and making it an offence to serve more alcohol to anyone under-21 who had already consumed more than three units". (Full report HERE.)

Can Gerrard be serious? Sadly, I think he is. Nor is he alone. His proposal is similar to one put forward by a doctor in Scotland who last year suggested that people should be limited to three units of alcohol when they go to the pub. The idea was dismissed as ludicrous and impractical but, thanks to Gerrard, the idea has resurfaced  but with one significant 'improvement' - the smart card. Of course the idea is still ridiculous - and worryingly authoritarian - but others will no doubt repeat it in the hope that it gets taken up by campaigners and politicians who are either on a mission to 'protect' us from ourselves or will do anything to justify their existence.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the IPPR. Earlier this month Simon Retallack, the organisation's head of climate change, called for tobacco style health warnings to be displayed on holiday ads, warning people about the possible damage that flights and cars will do to the environment. What next? A ban on short-haul flights? Weekend breaks abroad? Or perhaps we'll be issued with a smart card that monitors how far we've travelled by car or plane and prevents us from going any further once we've reached our 'limit'.

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Reader Comments (4)

When you consider many EU countries have a legal drinking age of 16 I think any attempts to restrict alcohol to the under-21's is a step backwards. When I was younger I could drink a lot more alcohol than I do now and still be ok for it and even now I can still drink a lot more than the average person. Basically for me three units is nothing (less than two bottles of Newcastle Brown), that's less than 30 minutes of drinking.

I support drink drive laws just because that action can cause serious consequences to innocent people but restricting how much alcohol people drink for any other reason is wrong. People should be allowed to define responsibly themselves and if they can't do that then they have to suffer their consequences.

As for age limits, I believe that people should gain the rights of an adult at 16, this is the age when they can leave school and contribute to the economy with a full time job and its associated taxes so as a british citizen that's eligible to work they should be able to vote.

April 16, 2007 at 9:51 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Simon, the comment that you make in the last paragraph to the effect that a "smartcard" be used to monitor flight usage is, perhaps, less fanciful than we might think. I believe I heard a politician on a Radio 4 programme suggest that, to meet our "green" targets, each individual could be issued with an allowance to use products and services which contribute to greenhouse gases. Presumably, individuals can then make choices, such as do I fly to the Bahamas and make do with candles the rest of the year or do I fly to France and luxuriate in energy saving lightbulbs!!

April 16, 2007 at 10:03 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Actually, I'm all for a smart card to limit alcohol consumption - but not for the obvious reasons.
I believe our only real hope of backing away from the healthism that's gripping the country is for it to go too far, too fast. A smart card limiting the amount of alcohol, even of those in the 18-21 category would devastate the pub industry across the country and maybe wake a few people up to consequencies of over-regulation.

Many bingo regulars north of the border are now deprived of anywhere to actually play bingo (I hope the fact they aren't exposed to SHS comes as a great comfort) thanks to the smoking ban. Similarly a "smart card" system would deprive even more people of anywhere to go out for a drink.

Of course, I doubt the people putting forward these ideas actually spend any time in pubs, so it's possible they might not even notice when there's suddenly nowhere within 20 miles to go for a night out.

April 17, 2007 at 11:12 | Unregistered CommenterRob Simpson

Of course, many youngster drink at home or in the local parks - pubs and clubs are too expensive, so they top up before and/or after from the off licence or their parents drinks cabinet!

May 11, 2007 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterLyn Ladds

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