The Scottish government is contemplating price controls on alcoholic drinks. Unlike most price controls around the world these will be intended to keep prices up rather than down. The figure being mooted is 40p per unit of alcohol - this means it will cost £1.20 to go over the drink-drive limit.
The motivation is to reduce the ever growing hospital case load, ease the pressure on the police and courts from drunk and disorderly or incapable persons (these are two distinct crimes; being drunk by itself isn't a crime at all in the UK) and reduce alcohol-related school and work absenteeism. These have all gone off the scale in recent years due to retailers using 'special deals' on booze to gain market share; drink is now easily affordable even by children.
The trouble is the Scottish government doesn't actually have the power to impose price controls, and if they enacted legislation to give themselves such a power they would be dragged through every court in the land by those who think it's their inalienable right to get paralytically inebriated and lie puking in the gutter before being scooped up and cosseted at the taxpayers' expense.
But if they can pass such a law and make it stick it sounds like a brilliant idea. Even a modest fall in consumption is expected to reduced sick days by a million, hospital admissions by several thousand and court cases by several hundred. The retailers are bleating about their sales but by and large what they lose in volume they will regain in the profit margin.
And of course the 40p floor will only really affect the cost of the roughest ciders and maybe some lager. The new law will not have the slightest affect on anyone with any discernment in what they drink - so I'm all in favour.