Winebits 504: Neo-Prohibitionist edition

neo-PrhobitionistsThis week’s wine news: How the neo-Prohibitionists want to stop us from drinking by passing stricter laws and raising taxes

Higher taxes: Kunmi Sobowale, writing in Scientific American, argues that “alcohol taxation is an effective solution” to reducing drinking and drinking-related violence. “Higher availability of alcohol, particularly bars, increases risk of both intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. Taxing alcohol decreases economic availability.” This is not a new argument; it was part of the Centers for Disease Control alcohol epic in 2014. But what’s different this time is the focus on protecting women and children.

Because higher taxes work: Or least they do with cigarettes, according to a study published in August. It found that when cigarette prices increase by $1 a pack, there is a 20 percent increase in the rate of those who quit smoking. And taxes are among the easiest ways to increase cigarette prices. The difference, of course, is that smoking is not the same as drinking, and that most of us don’t become addicted to alcohol in the way that smokers become hooked on nicotine. I would also argue that there is a tremendous difference between drinking, which doesn’t necessarily kill you, and smoking, which does. Always.

Even the Aussies: Want to drink wine in some Australian pubs after midnight? Then bring ID, since late-night drinkers in the state of Queensland need a passport or drivers license to get in. This is not about age, but is an ID check – in place, say state officials, “to minimize the risk of alcohol-related harm.” So what happens when you don’t have an ID? You cause an international incident. Danish Crown Prince Frederik was turned away from a bar in Brisbane because he didn’t have any, just another in a series of embarrassing incidents. A group of French winemakers were turned away in July from The Gresham, one of Brisbane’s best-known bars because they didn’t have ID, either. One bar owner told the Brisbane Courier Mail that the new rules are “a nightmare – this is just the tip of the iceberg with the prince. It’s happening all the time with normal people.”

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