Why do those who claim to act in the best interests of the nation’s health make it so hard for us to like them?
I’m going to wager no one reading this and not a single alcohol company featured on this website wants a society of binge-drinking teenage tearaways. So why, when I read articles supposedly quoting the views of people whose ultimate aim I agree with, do I find myself getting angrier?
There were two examples this week. First, Brian Cowie of Alcohol Support, an Aberdeen-based charity, said 103 young people aged 10 to 18 were treated for drink-related illness or incidents in the north east of Scotland between 2011-13. “My main beef is with supermarkets and off-licences that put drinks at the front of the shop and young people just go in and steal it,” he is quoted as saying.
Can anyone reading this tell me they are in favour of having their products stolen? Diageo has created special casing to allow retailers to put their spirits on shelves without fear of being shoplifted; the cost of retail crime is rising 16% year-on-year. The problems of shoplifting are well known to retailers.
Why are retailers to blame for society’s problem? Change your store layout, please, the kids are thirsty. What do you put there instead? Easily pocketed fresh food? High-value grocery items that are a favourite shoplifting target?
The second article featured Julia Verne, head of liver disease at Public Health England. Verne was quoted as saying that 24-hour alcohol shops are one of the reasons behind an increase in alcohol consumption in England.
The number of 11 to 15-year-olds reported as ever having had an alcoholic drink has, according to the Portman Group, fallen by 34% in the past 10 years. Total alcohol consumption has fallen by 18% in the last 10 years, according to HM Revenue & Customs. The number of shops able to sell alcohol around the clock is just over 2,100, according to the most recently available figures, and rising by 5% year on year. A rise in those oh-so-dangerous round-the-clock stores… and a fall in alcohol consumption. It doesn’t add up the way Verne wants it to.
It’s time to stop blaming small stores for the problems of the nation and work with them to educate the at-risk elements of the population.