Simon Kelner: Nanny state won't stop young people getting lashed

Kelner's view

Share

Here's a sobering thought as you prepare for the working week with joy in your heart and the sun on your back. Yes, as you'll read on the front pages of every newspaper over the next few days, it's hotter here than in Marbella, or the Maldives, or even Mars.

And also you'll have an extra hour of daylight to tend to your garden, or hear the birds sing, or take an evening stroll. On the other hand, you may feel hounded, persecuted and ostracised. If you happen to be a person who likes a drink, you are very much in the Government's – and society's – sights.

In the wake of last week's proposal by the Home Secretary – that, in an effort to curb binge drinking by young people, there should be a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol – came the news that doctors will be incentivised to report on their patients' drinking habits.

The thrust behind this initiative is as a prevention-rather-than-cure system for a patient who might, unknowingly, be considered a problem drinker. At face value, I don't really know how this is going to work. In my experience, anyone who's asked by a doctor how much they drink/smoke/eat will underestimate their intake by at least 50 per cent. A doctor friend of mine tells me he always doubles the amount his patient has told him. The truly worrying thing about the new next-to-zero tolerance about alcohol consumption is that you could halve your actual intake and still make it into the at-risk category. "Oh, I don't drink very much, maybe two or three glasses of wine most nights." – "I'm sorry, sir, but you had better come with me for some specialist advice."

According to the Department of Health, this strategy of intervention works, particularly with older, professional people. I have always been rather keen on the nanny state, but I am not sure how effective this method will be with young people, and their evening-out alcoholic triathlon of pre-lash (supermarket-bought vodka, usually), lash itself (pub and club) and post-lash (anything goes, apart from wine).

There is no doubt that, as a nation, we have a drink problem. Drink damages health and can be the cause of social breakdown.

But – believe it or not – we are actually drinking less than we used to, according the latest government statistics. And I think some of the moral panic attached to drinking, which often comes in the shape of newspapers showing pictures of intoxicated, scantily-clad young women, comes from envy – why can't we be young, carefree and having fun any more? – or from snobbery – why can't poor people behave themselves?

To adapt Dylan Thomas's famous epithet that an alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do, perhaps today's problem drinkers are those younger, and not as socially advantaged, as those laying down the rules. Cheers!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world