Sunday, 20 December 2009


This photograph shows the scene outside my door this morning.

On days like this the prospect of snuggling down in a cosy pub may seem attractive. Alcohol is an insidious drug, an enemy posing as a friend. Last week in Daily Post, Martin Williams reported that North Wales is the third worst place in UK for heavy drinking.

In Wales as a whole, nearly 13,000 people a year turn up in hospital for alcohol-related reasons, and booze kills a thousand a year. The damage done to individuals and communities is serious and the cost to social services, police and health services, is enormous.

Dr. Tony Jewell the Chief Medical Officer for Wales calls for more education about the harm that alcohol can do, and he would like to see a minimum price per unit. He calls for stricter rules against promoting alcohol, and higher tax on booze.

In the same week, a Conservative Party booklet was delivered to households in Rhyl district, clearly promoting alcohol and calling for lower tax on booze. At the heart of the Tories' concern is decline in the number of pubs. The Party need not worry. There is an old saying, ‘Nothing good ever came out of a pub’. It was true then and it’s still true.

FRI 15th JAN 2010 UPDATE: So far this month, ministers at Welsh Assembly Government and the new-ish Chief Constable of North Wales have expressed support for the idea of having a fixed minimum price per unit of alcohol.

MON 2nd JUL 2018 UPDATE: Last month, after eight years or more of deliberation, Welsh Government voted to introduce minimum pricing from next Summer onwards. The amount per unit is to be announced soon (probably 50p, same as Scotland). Cheap, high-strength alcoholic drinks are expected to more than double in price.
I have noted that in Rhyl alcohol consumption seems heavy on lottery nights. Perhaps it wouldn't be if people knew their real chances. The odds against winning  or sharing a National Lottery jackpot are more than 45 million to 1. The odds against a Euromillions jackpot are more than 139 million to 1.
For the vast majority of people, alcohol and gambling have something important in common – they are both a waste of money.