You know it is time to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol when you see a 20-year-old walking drunk up the street at noon the day after the night before with an empty litre bottle of cheap whiskey in his hand.
It is amazing how governments and people have allowed supermarkets and off-licences to hook both young and older people on cheap booze. It is something that is affecting every town and family in the country. A lot of the problems are hidden because it involves house drinking.
The Scottish parliament, where the SNP has a strong majority, last month introduced the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill. It has based this legislation on feedback from leading doctors and academics, who said alcohol was linked to 13,000 new cases of cancer each year and associated with one in four deaths of people aged 15 to 24. The aim is to narrow the price-gap between alcohol bought in bars with alcohol bought in supermarkets.
Of course, vested interests in the drinks industry will contest any legislation, yet they are the same organisations which have shown no social responsibility to young people. It is all about selling volume so as to maximise profits. The Department for Social Development and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety here issued, earlier this year, a joint consultation on minimum pricing of alcohol.
Legislation cannot come quickly enough.
Lurgan, Co Armagh