In the UK, alcohol is a national treasure. While advocates against the status quo should continue to unroll startling health data to the public, we have another task that is equally important: dismantling the glorification of alcohol. Regulating the messages on billboards and products and, more perniciously, on card racks and in gift shops. The messages on t-shirts, candles, coasters, and fridge magnets; everywhere you look. The endorsement and enabling of binge drinking sells, because so many of us do it.
Catherine Gray, Lancet, 1 November
The adverse effects of excessive alcohol are legion. The Alcohol Health Alliance, a group of more than 50 medical organisations, says 23,000 deaths a year are linked to alcohol… The unpalatable truth is that the NHS itself militates against individual responsibility because its core assumption of healthcare entitlement is a one-way street. People will only alter their risky behaviour if they have to contribute to the cost of treating the consequences. That means replacing the NHS with some kind of European-style social insurance system, with higher premiums for self-destructive lifestyles.
Melanie Phillips, Times, 6 November
Tracey Crouch, the sports minister, earned widespread admiration this week for her principled resignation over gambling machines. She wants a law to cut the maximum stake from £100 every 20 seconds to £2, and was furious when Philip Hammond in the Budget announced it would be delayed until October next year. I haven’t seen a single good reason for the delay… In the welter of negativity about politics, it is easy to forget that many politicians have principles, and that some of them are even prepared to stand by them. My view is that most politicians are more idealistic and sincere than most people think. Thank you to Tracey Crouch for reminding us of that.
John Rentoul, Independent, 4 November
Gambling is a simple but socially wasteful business where the amount of money made by the industry varies according to the losses made by the punters. And when it becomes addictive – as it often does – there are higher healthcare, welfare and criminal justice bills to be paid. The government will never eradicate problem gambling but it can take steps to minimise it.
Larry Elliott, Guardian, 8 November
Thanks to the ‘county lines’ business model of the gangs, huge quantities of coke are now flooding Britain’s market towns and villages, bringing bloodshed in their wake. As the wave of violence sweeps the UK, those who snort this drug cannot maintain their moral blindspot.
Clare Foges, Sun, 7 November