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Proposed minimum alcohol pricing

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  • 09-12-2015 8:42pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 634 ✭✭✭souter


    So Leo appears to be doing a Michaél and trying to enact a laudable, but crucially cheap, bit of legacy building - to wit minimum alcohol pricing.
    Without going into the pros and cons (see http://m.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=69861563) does this have a hope?
    I'm thinking of Scotland, which attempted likewise but got scuppered by vested interests appealing to the free trade principles of the EU, vis case C-333/14/
    Does anyone have the relevant legal background to decipher said case and what implications it has for any similar Irish legislation?


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Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,096 ✭✭✭✭the groutch


    probably not, so many potential stumbling blocks along the way
    but it would be the perfect opportunity for an opposition party to win a rake of extra votes by opposing it.
    this could well be as contentious an issue as IW.


  • Registered Users Posts: 323 ✭✭mistermouse


    I think this is a bit of showboating, and being seen to come out with a big policy before the election - doing something dramatic in the way that the smoking ban was successful and hailed

    I think there are differences though; european competition law is being used to circumvent it in Scotland. Also one of the big differences with the smoking ban was once the Government of the time asserted that staff working in smoking environs, they were bound to protect them.

    In this case they are not issuing a ban as such, they have not tied themselves to potential legal action by not banning, they are just 'discouraging' it, more of the bag tax type of scenario but still hoping for positive headlines.

    Its a sledgehammer and nut scenario, but as they do hope people will just accept and get used to paying, regardless, hoping that they will go down in history. The pricing increase may not even end up in taxation, but they probably hope so.

    For what its worth, the big problem in recent years in public order has been more front loading before going out and drinking multiples of adrenaline boosting shots/strong alco-pops sometimes mixed with drugs compared to years ago when people had a few pints and often when they had too many ended up asleep!

    Either way its a deflection from actually achieving what he should be in his health portfolio -


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    My own, pet conspiracy theory is that this is FG being FG.

    Roll out a couple of socially controversial issues so we, the media etc end up discussing and arguing while the real story rolls on elsewhere.

    In this case I don't think it's no co-incidence that this initiative, and 'calories on menus,' was announced just before we enter the worst period, generally, for EDs and the HSE.

    As for the proposal itself. I doubt it will change much beyond allowing retailers, publicans and manufacturers from sneaking in their own increases and driving people to shop over the border (once the Euro improves). There's also the risk it'll increase the incentive for 'smuggling' - as in people clubbing together and taking a van to France.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,241 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    probably not, so many potential stumbling blocks along the way
    but it would be the perfect opportunity for an opposition party to win a rake of extra votes by opposing it.
    this could well be as contentious an issue as IW.

    No one is going to win a rake of votes by advocating that the price of drink must remain low.
    Drink causes a lot of problems in this country someone campaigning for it to remain dirt cheap will get push back not only from citizens concerned about anti social behavior, drink driving etc, but also from the pub lobby, who are pretty powerful.

    The discounted price of drink in supermarkets is a side effect of the removal of the ban on below cost selling, which was introduced about a decade ago.

    For the lifetime of this Government there has been a focus on looking at alcohol and how it is regulated in this country, minimum pricing is just one aspect, along with advertising and sponsorship by drinks industry, no conspiracy here.

    By the way I'm in my 40s and do not drink much anymore, thus the price of the stuff is not a big factor for me, I may have a different opinion if I was 25 again.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,886 ✭✭✭✭Roger_007


    The section of the population who are portrayed as being the main problem are teenagers and young adults. Paying a few extra Euros is not going to make much difference to them. They are already paying among the highest prices in Europe and it doesn't stop them.
    The only beneficiaries from this measure are the supermarkets and off-licences. If the minister was serious about this being a health measure, he would have looked for an excise increase in the budget and he could reasonably claim that the extra revenue raised would be spent on health. But ,of course, that might upset the publicans.
    To my mind the whole cynical exercise is designed to allow the government to claim that they doing something to tackle the drink problem.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,771 ✭✭✭✭keane2097


    By the way I'm in my 40s and do not drink much anymore, thus the price of the stuff is not a big factor for me, I may have a different opinion if I was 25 again.

    I suspect it's even less a factor for people who are 25 and under.

    It's very hard to believe the swathes of people from college age up to ~30 are likely to curb participation in what remains for many the only social outlet because the price of a bottle of wine or a six pack goes up by a few quid.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,241 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    keane2097 wrote: »
    I suspect it's even less a factor for people who are 25 and under.

    It's very hard to believe the swathes of people from college age up to ~30 are likely to curb participation in what remains for many the only social outlet because the price of a bottle of wine or a six pack goes up by a few quid.

    My own personal experience was that as a student and shortly afterwards, the price of drink was a big deal, you went where it was cheapest, you did not stop drinking if there was an increase but you certainly were aware of how that increase may effect your weekly cash flow.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,134 ✭✭✭Lux23


    It is already difficult enough to find a decent bottle of wine that is less than €10 so I am not sure it would have any impact on my drinking. Prices will probably go up however so my usual bottle of wine will be a couple of quid more. It won't stop me drinking. Alcohol is incredibly expensive in Ireland and getting drunk takes considerable spending power. In Europe, you could probably get blitzed for a tenner if you bought from an off licence. So I don't think it will work.


  • Registered Users Posts: 739 ✭✭✭minitrue


    No one is going to win a rake of votes by advocating that the price of drink must remain low.
    We have an extremely high "price of drink" in this country so saying "remain low" is spinning things already. I also reject the premise that the alternative was to advocate anything, the alternative was not to mess about creating new law.

    I'd have thought advocating a non-trivial minimum price on drink would be a way to lose "a rake of votes" but the lack of reaction to this, both now and since it was floated with a guide to the price, suggests apathy reigns supreme.
    The discounted price of drink in supermarkets is a side effect of the removal of the ban on below cost selling, which was introduced about a decade ago.
    Is it really discounted? Does anyone have any proof they are selling it for less then they paid for it? Assuming there are genuine cases where people have been taking a marginal loss on the sales, what sort of % of alcohol sales are we talking about?

    I think this is a bit of a strawman, if you want to try and address below cost selling of alcohol address that (and hence be transparent in your support of the alcohol trade) and if you think alcohol is too cheap address that with more duty (groan, wrong, but not dishonest). The sort of place where I could imagine it perhaps being acceptable is something like petrol, if the Saudi royals decided to setup a "direct" efficient chain of petrol stations here it would probably be worth forcing them to take more profit to try and ensure we didn't lose all infrastructure to keep fuel available throughout the island without them. I don't see anything ever threatening the supply and distribution of alcohol in Ireland so why protect it? Even if there was an imminent threat that every other country in the world would stop selling us anything related to alcohol it's safe to say both that we can establish our own self-sufficiency far beyond any important need (medical/industrial uses) and that any such large disruption to the availability or price of alcohol would suit the STATED goal of "controlling the drink problem".
    For the lifetime of this Government there has been a focus on looking at alcohol and how it is regulated in this country, minimum pricing is just one aspect, along with advertising and sponsorship by drinks industry, no conspiracy here.
    Just because they hung out a banner of "looking at alcohol" does not mean that they aren't taking advantage.

    This is a brazen brown envelope for the vendors of alcohol who now will all have to pocket any extra they have to charge. Due to the nature of things this will mean the supermarkets will be discounting other items using the extra profits from the alcohol they've had to mark up to meet the minimum pricing. The off licenses will now be able to attract the budget conscious drinkers more easily as there won't be savings to be had anywhere else. The pubs will look less outlandishly priced though they decided to keep the price low enough, for now, that I think they avoided forcing Weatherspoons to raise their prices. Over time it just means more profit for the entire alcohol chain to figure out how to divide up, at the same time they are restricting their advertising and sponsorship, so would I be too cynical to suggest more will likely go into political donations? They didn't ban donations to political parties and politicians from those who sell alcohol did they?
    By the way I'm in my 40s and do not drink much anymore, thus the price of the stuff is not a big factor for me, I may have a different opinion if I was 25 again.
    I'm similar but obviously still have the different opinion. We really are an extremely regressive country and this, to me, is as offensive a demonstration of it as you can find (the 23% VAT rate is right up there with it). And then there is the Vintners permanent hold over every government. As I said in a prior thread about this:
    minitrue wrote: »
    If only McDowell had managed to force through his licensing reforms, but instead another government shows us they have a lot more fear of the publican then the voting public.
    And that's all ignoring the fact I've no idea why anyone thinks this will get past the European courts where the Scots failed?


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,241 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    minitrue wrote: »
    We have an extremely high "price of drink" in this country so saying "remain low" is spinning things already. I also reject the premise that the alternative was to advocate anything, the alternative was not to mess about creating new law.

    I'd have thought advocating a non-trivial minimum price on drink would be a way to lose "a rake of votes" but the lack of reaction to this, both now and since it was floated with a guide to the price, suggests apathy reigns supreme.

    Is it really discounted? Does anyone have any proof they are selling it for less then they paid for it? Assuming there are genuine cases where people have been taking a marginal loss on the sales, what sort of % of alcohol sales are we talking about?

    I think this is a bit of a strawman, if you want to try and address below cost selling of alcohol address that (and hence be transparent in your support of the alcohol trade) and if you think alcohol is too cheap address that with more duty (groan, wrong, but not dishonest). The sort of place where I could imagine it perhaps being acceptable is something like petrol, if the Saudi royals decided to setup a "direct" efficient chain of petrol stations here it would probably be worth forcing them to take more profit to try and ensure we didn't lose all infrastructure to keep fuel available throughout the island without them. I don't see anything ever threatening the supply and distribution of alcohol in Ireland so why protect it? Even if there was an imminent threat that every other country in the world would stop selling us anything related to alcohol it's safe to say both that we can establish our own self-sufficiency far beyond any important need (medical/industrial uses) and that any such large disruption to the availability or price of alcohol would suit the STATED goal of "controlling the drink problem".

    Just because they hung out a banner of "looking at alcohol" does not mean that they aren't taking advantage.

    This is a brazen brown envelope for the vendors of alcohol who now will all have to pocket any extra they have to charge. Due to the nature of things this will mean the supermarkets will be discounting other items using the extra profits from the alcohol they've had to mark up to meet the minimum pricing. The off licenses will now be able to attract the budget conscious drinkers more easily as there won't be savings to be had anywhere else. The pubs will look less outlandishly priced though they decided to keep the price low enough, for now, that I think they avoided forcing Weatherspoons to raise their prices. Over time it just means more profit for the entire alcohol chain to figure out how to divide up, at the same time they are restricting their advertising and sponsorship, so would I be too cynical to suggest more will likely go into political donations? They didn't ban donations to political parties and politicians from those who sell alcohol did they?

    I'm similar but obviously still have the different opinion. We really are an extremely regressive country and this, to me, is as offensive a demonstration of it as you can find (the 23% VAT rate is right up there with it). And then there is the Vintners permanent hold over every government. As I said in a prior thread about this:

    And that's all ignoring the fact I've no idea why anyone thinks this will get past the European courts where the Scots failed?

    Sorry but you seem to be taking me for someone who cares about this topic, I'm not.

    I spend so little of my income on alcohol these days that it matters nothing to me what the price may be.

    I was just replying to the poster who suggested that there was political capital to be made by the opposition parties by opposing minimum pricing, there is not.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,874 ✭✭✭✭expectationlost


    media reporting this as if its going to happen, very strange


  • Registered Users Posts: 43,311 ✭✭✭✭K-9


    media reporting this as if its going to happen, very strange

    Indeed, title amended but we don't have to sell newspapers or attract listeners.

    Mad Men's Don Draper : What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.



  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 14,505 Mod ✭✭✭✭johnnyskeleton


    Its an attempt, in my view, to get people back into the pubs so that the €5+ per pint prices seem less outlandish.

    The most immediate effects it will have on me are:

    1. Will be prohibitively expensive to use real wine for cooking and will have to substitute that no alcohol stuff.

    2. Will probably encourage people to drink craft beer since they are paying the higher price anyways. Oh wait, this is Ireland - so all orices will shoot up realtive to the minimum price of the cheapaest offering.

    Thanks a bunch vintners association lobby!


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,397 ✭✭✭✭FreudianSlippers


    Firstly, this is nothing more than stealth taxation and anti-competitive legislation. If they really wanted to put in a measure to prevent alcohol abuse at a young age and to the poorer, they would have gone for sugary drinks and things like cider.

    What they have done instead is ensure that all prices will rise so significantly that it'll be cheaper to go to the pub instead of "drinking in". €28 minimum for a 40% bottle of spirits is insanely high. A bottle of Tesco own-brand vodka is €13 on their website this morning; that's a 115% increase in price. The average Absolut or Smirnoff (they're all on special so I'm going for their normal price) is abound €26 - still below the minimum!

    If we see an increase in price similar to the lowest brand (and let's be honest, why wouldn't they?) your 70cl bottle of Absolut or Smirnoff will be €53.

    How much is a bottle of Huzzar? €19; meaning that it will likely be increased to the minimum €28.

    Now - that leads me to the more substantive point... why is it important how much Huzzar costs? Because it's produced by Irish Distillers.

    This is nothing less than an absolute waste of resources by this government and this minister as a popularity stunt with the nanny-state brigade and the publicans.

    This legislation simply cannot pass EU scrutiny (as we have seen already in Scotland) because it is anti-competitive. The minister knows this, the government knows this, the dogs on the street know this... so why are we wasting our time discussing this?

    This Bill should fail because of the minimum pricing in the wrong areas. We deserve a Bill that has all the other parts of this one, without the anti-competitive and market disruptive minimum pricing. If pubs want bums in the seats, then they're going to need to start charging realistic prices - not lobby the government to make it more attractive to pay €9 for a watered down G&T.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,873 ✭✭✭melissak


    I think it's a stupid idea caused by vitiner lobbies in the hopes of reviving their trade. The ridiculous off-licence times proved to be an own goal as people who might have gone for a pint after work now go home in time for off licence. This is an industry too lazy to come up with good ideas to boost their trade so they bully or bribe governments in a desperate scramble to maintain profits.
    Problem drinkers will continue to drink with massive health and crime implications as they are addicted and this is what addiction means.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,716 Mod ✭✭✭✭Tabnabs


    Here's one that made me LOL, People Before Profit councillor, Karl Gill, has extended the PBPAAA 'entitled to' campaign to include alcohol after David Norris said
    "I don't spend my tax dollars to buy drinks for people on social welfare, I don't think tax is for people to be drinking all the time. "I see them all around my area buying slabs of drinks."

    https://twitter.com/KarlGill/status/675281686310068224

    So that's a right to water, a right to housing and now a right to binge drink


  • Registered Users Posts: 43,311 ✭✭✭✭K-9


    Tabnabs wrote: »
    Here's one that made me LOL, People Before Profit councillor, Karl Gill, has extended the PBPAAA 'entitled to' campaign to include alcohol after David Norris said



    https://twitter.com/KarlGill/status/675281686310068224

    So that's a right to water, a right to housing and now a right to binge drink

    In fairness though, its a pretty pointless thing to say unless he has a proposal to change it. Vouchers would make sense otherwise you can't tell people what to spend money on, even if it is S.W.

    Mad Men's Don Draper : What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,195 ✭✭✭Thinkingaboutit


    K-9 wrote: »
    In fairness though, its a pretty pointless thing to say unless he has a proposal to change it. Vouchers would make sense otherwise you can't tell people what to spend money on, even if it is S.W.

    Food stamps don't work to prevent people buying things that nanny doesn't want. It creates another illegal trade channel. In the US poor people have ways of trading the cards in a way to get drink. Usually they might get something saleable like multipacks of Coca Cola with SNAP, and sell that for money and then buy alcohol. Also the good Senator can GTFO, people without jobs are entitled to a measure of dignity. The welfare class of people who almost never work, isn't vast.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,886 ✭✭✭✭Roger_007


    Tabnabs wrote: »
    Here's one that made me LOL, People Before Profit councillor, Karl Gill, has extended the PBPAAA 'entitled to' campaign to include alcohol after David Norris said



    https://twitter.com/KarlGill/status/675281686310068224

    So that's a right to water, a right to housing and now a right to binge drink

    A minor point that Norris failed to mention is that his 'tax dollars' is money he gets from the rest of us. Maybe we should tell him what he can spend his/our money on.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,397 ✭✭✭✭FreudianSlippers


    Food stamps don't work to prevent people buying things that nanny doesn't want. It creates another illegal trade channel. In the US poor people have ways of trading the cards in a way to get drink. Usually they might get something saleable like multipacks of Coca Cola with SNAP, and sell that for money and then buy alcohol. Also the good Senator can GTFO, people without jobs are entitled to a measure of dignity. The welfare class of people who almost never work, isn't vast.
    That may be the case, but it's undeniable that in States who have transitioned from "stamps" to EBT cards, there has been a significant decline in this behaviour.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,873 ✭✭✭melissak


    I was hoping the marriage equality referendums success would take away David norris s platform. I find him to be an insufferable elitist With no ideas or political purpose but equality for gay people. And paedophileS. I guess some are more equal than others in his eutopia .


    s
    Food stamps don't work to prevent people buying things that nanny doesn't want. It creates another illegal trade channel. In the US poor people have ways of trading the cards in a way to get drink. Usually they might get something saleable like multipacks of Coca Cola with SNAP, and sell that for money and then buy alcohol. Also the good Senator can GTFO, people without jobs are entitled to a measure of dignity. The welfare class of people who almost never work, isn't vast.


  • Registered Users Posts: 634 ✭✭✭souter


    Tracked down the actual publication fwiw ,http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/govt-approves-groundbreaking-legislation-to-tackle-alcohol-misuse-varadkar/

    Note final paragraph on Scotland and EU, answers exactly nothing:
    ...
    The Advocate General’s opinion indicates that MUP may be compatible with European Law only if it can be shown to be more effective than other alternative measures. The Department of Health has, and will continue to work closely with the Office of the Attorney General.
    ...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,873 ✭✭✭melissak


    Roger_007 wrote: »
    A minor point that Norris failed to mention is that his 'tax dollars' is money he gets from the rest of us. Maybe we should tell him what he can spend his/our money on.

    And ask him what he does For his money


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,873 ✭✭✭melissak


    Do you think people who have fallen on hard times, lost their jobs, became disabled, we're widowed or became a carer for a sick child etc should be refused a beer? Let's put them in ghettos and make them ring a bell and shout unemployed while we are at it...
    Tabnabs wrote: »
    Here's one that made me LOL, People Before Profit councillor, Karl Gill, has extended the PBPAAA 'entitled to' campaign to include alcohol after David Norris said



    https://twitter.com/KarlGill/status/675281686310068224

    So that's a right to water, a right to housing and now a right to binge drink


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,873 ✭✭✭melissak


    Don't forget home brew. Better for you and practically free. easier than you would expect too. In your face vitiner.
    Its an attempt, in my view, to get people back into the pubs so that the €5+ per pint prices seem less outlandish.

    The most immediate effects it will have on me are:

    1. Will be prohibitively expensive to use real wine for cooking and will have to substitute that no alcohol stuff.

    2. Will probably encourage people to drink craft beer since they are paying the higher price anyways. Oh wait, this is Ireland - so all orices will shoot up realtive to the minimum price of the cheapaest offering.

    Thanks a bunch vintners association lobby!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,614 ✭✭✭barry181091


    I'm afraid homebrew is no better for you. The problem is simply drinking too much ethanol. I would argue that on average, homebrew would have a higher ABV, thus, could potentially cause more damage long term if you were to drink the same amount.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,205 ✭✭✭✭hmmm


    The politics of this move is very bad for FG IMO, it will cost them more votes than they expect. It's not like the smoking ban where there was a broad consensus - years of media campaigning meant that most people understood the danger of smoking.

    It's not the case with this - sure I hear the doctors saying we have a problem with people who do not consider themselves heavy drinkers but who are (according to the medical definition), but I don't think that argument has been won yet. I would say that most middle class people, who maybe like a beer or a glass of wine in the evening, see themselves as very different to the wino or 20 year old who ends up comatose in ER.

    The politics of this is that at a time when the economy is growing, people are feeling more secure in their jobs & there aren't great pressing social issues for most people to care about (most people don't care about the "housing crisis" let's face it), this is one of those easy to understand issues which some/many of the public will latch on to. There'll be lots of pious nodding when a doctor is telling us about the evils of alcohol, but in private you can already hear the murmurings of opposition, and the identification of FG with this move.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,446 ✭✭✭glued


    This is just another bizarre strategy from Fine Gael and it shows how much of a weak position they're in. What is forcing them to publish a bill that has absolutely no chance of ever coming into law?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,685 ✭✭✭flutered


    K-9 wrote: »
    In fairness though, its a pretty pointless thing to say unless he has a proposal to change it. Vouchers would make sense otherwise you can't tell people what to spend money on, even if it is S.W.

    is not norris funded by the taxpayer, the only diff between him and some one on welfare is the amount of tax payers money it costs to fund both his salary and sick pay from trinity


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,685 ✭✭✭flutered


    why have they not just abolished the below cost selling by the muntiples,.this alone would be a harvest for the revenue


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