Minimum alcohol pricing causes concern among students

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Photo: Tony Alter
Photo: Tony Alter
Photo: Kent Kanouse
Photo: Kent Kanouse

Recent news that at least half of all alcohol in Scotland will be affected by new minimum pricing laws has been met with mixed reactions from students in St Andrews.

While most students contacted by The Saint were unwilling to offer comment beyond “Damn you, 2016”, and “I blame all the Glaswegians”, others expounded on their opposition to the new law in more detail.

Second year Alice Foulis summed up the view of many students that Minimum Pricing Laws were futile, saying: “[The Scottish Government] are trying to discourage binge drinking, but I think if people want to binge-drink they’re going to find a way to do it anyway.”

International perspective on this burning issue was offered by Hannah Lieberman, a JSA from Davidson College who said: “As an American who isn’t legal drinking age, I know that the less available alcohol is to legally purchase the more inclined students are to pregame in their homes which ends up being a lot less safe.”

Given the status of St Andrews as an elite university, it was perhaps inevitable that students would find more intellectually rigorous means of defending their access to cheap alcohol. Third year Economist Jason Gallant argued, “With minimum pricing, the Scottish government will unfairly apply the burden of cost onto the majority of responsible drinkers.

“Though the law’s intent may be to curb ‘cheap’ drinking done to excess, I believe the law will backfire because those who are truly heavy drinkers will simply reallocate their budget to account for the increased alcohol prices, and this will have a disproportionate effect on those with low incomes.

“Additionally, because of this law, the alcohol industry will generate far more revenue, which should be against the government’s interests if they intend to curb the industry’s influence. A better solution would be a per-unit tax so that the government can focus resources on alcohol awareness programs and protecting local businesses which may be harmed by the law.”

Despite these arguments, and the importance that the student body as a whole apparently ascribes to cheap drink, reactions were not entirely negative, with First year Ruth Batten saying that: “I just think that me having to fork out a bit more for pre-drinks is a minor price to pay for possibly saving someone from dying from alcohol poisoning or causing a car crash.”

While Miss Batten’s views are decidedly in a minority, it remains likely that debates over the new minimum pricing laws will continue to rage for the time being.

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