Friday, 25 November 2005

I'll Have a Double Standard, Please

This week sees what can arguably be called a historic change in the country’s social habits. The licensing laws around drinking hours have been relaxed after years of governmental promises for all sides. As soon as the change was announced and it looked like it would happen this time, voices could be heard forecasting all sorts of evil fall on the country as a result. Of course, it is probably safer to wait until the week-end to see how things pan out but so far, it is very much a case of a storm in a cup of tea (so to speak). Few establishments have actually applied for the extended hours and the first reports say that the civil war announced has not started yet.

We were also informed that allowing people to drink longer would mean they will drink more. I am not sure how this can happen. First of all, once you are “legless”, as state people already managed to attain under the now defunct system, there is not much you can do to make things even worse. Secondly, there is an economic factor, which seems to have been over looked. Alcohol costs money and people will quickly find themselves limited by the size of their wallet if not by that of their stomach. Thirdly, it was already possible to drunk non-stop, just not in a pub, and those who wanted to indulge around the clock did not wait for the change of law.

Once again, I might be underestimating the allure of the charm of what is after all a national sport in this country, but I don’t think the new law will make much of a difference in a negative direction. It might however allow people to pace themselves a little more and, while drinking as much as before, not feel as much the worst for wear.

Finally I can’t help but drawing a comparison with the row over the smoking ban (about which I have blogged before) although the two issues are slightly different. While I can avoid drunken behaviour and drunk people fairly easily, I can not avoid inhaling smoke in a crowded pub or club. While I think there is call for banning smoking in ALL public places, I do not find it right to restrict people to do something (which most of the time harms only themselves) only at certain times. This smacks of double standards. Another example of this, comes from the Tory calling the smoking ban the actions of the dreaded “Nanny State” while finding perfectly acceptable to tell people when they can have a drink…

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