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

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently  

Shia LaBeouf to Luis Suárez: Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015