IT WAS with dismay I read about the proposed 24/7 selling of alcohol in Queen Street, Portsea.
Another shop selling alcohol means more people drinking and drinking more, and this at a time when it is generally recognised that we are drinking too much and need to cut down.
To quote Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, a liver specialist and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance: ‘People forget that alcohol is a toxic drug and a drug of dependence. It can no longer be considered like soap powder in terms of marketing and availability.’
Yet that is how it is sold, in fact in our convenience stores it is usually easier to find than soap powder.
Recognising the importance of Sir Ian’s statement raises the question of why we allow convenience stores and supermarkets to sell it, and the simple answer is that the government does not have the will to engage with the problem and even dithers over setting a minimum price per unit.
Availability means familiarity and this is where we have to make a radical change.
Many years ago dedicated off-licences were the only places where alcohol for home consumption could be purchased and a return to this arrangement could well initiate a positive reduction in general drinking.
Removing the licences from all supermarkets and convenience stores and instead allowing only dedicated off-licences to sell alcohol under the firm control of the local licensing committees would reduce the everyday familiarity and attraction that we experience today.
But at the same time it would still be available to the ‘responsible drinker’.