Plans to tackle drinking culture
By Dominic Daley
University drinking culture is rife in England and of course Durham is no exception.
With a large student population it is not uncommon to see drunken students stumbling around at 2am after a particularly heavy night on cheap alcohol.
This drinking culture is almost part of our student experience and helps people to relax and enjoy themselves after a day of lectures, but sometimes people take it too far and end up vomiting, passing out and/or needing to be taken to hospital.
David Cameron used his visit to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle this week to give support for a minimum pricing on alcohol and highlight the cost of binge drinking to the NHS, which is reportedly £2.7 billion a year. This money is spent on ambulances being called out, people having their stomachs pumped and general injuries to people who have lost all sense of consciousness and ability to control their actions.
In his speech David Cameron said “Over the last decade we’ve seen a frightening growth in the number of people – many underage – who think it’s acceptable for people to get drunk in public in ways that wreck lives, spread fear and increase crime.”
The minimum pricing would be based on how many units of alcohol are contained in the drink, so the more alcohol a drink has, the more expensive it would be.
In most universities there is a ‘pre-lash’ culture, where, instead of visiting bars and enjoying a few drinks there as in the past, students have instead taken to buying cheap litre bottles of spirits and getting horrifically drunk before they’ve even left the comfort of their own accommodation.
At the end of last year Academy tried to utilise this by introducing a BYOB system for two nights a week but this has failed to take off.
A government ban on the sale of alcohol below its cost price will be introduced in April and Cameron has also suggested the use of American style “drunk tanks”, where disorderly drunkards will be put put up for the night, avoiding the need to be formerly arrested.
The idea of “booze buses” has also been put forward, which are large ambulances that pick up drunk people from the street and treat them on board, in order to try and stop the crowding of hospitals.
So what does this mean for Durham students?
Some clubs in Durham sell doubles and triples for what seems like pocket-money, but with the minimum pricing laws these clubs may have to raise their prices.
However, many supermarket prices will not be affected as currently most supermarket promotions and discounts are higher than the minimum price proposed by the government.
Some argue that introducing a minimum price will not combat the ‘pre-lash’ culture, and may even worsen it if drinks become more expensive in clubs.