This House would ban alcohol

According to the WHO, in 2004 there were approximately 2.25 million premature deaths worldwide linked to alcohol. Alcohol is responsible for 4.5% of the global disease burden, even after the protective effects of low and moderate alcohol consumption had been considered.[1] Furthermore, binge drinking (excessive alcohol consumption) is becoming an increasing problem in most countries.[2]

In almost all countries in the world, adults are allowed to buy and consume alcohol with very little restriction (although there are often laws about the exact hours that bars and shops are allowed to sell alcohol and laws against drinking and driving). This is in marked contrast to the legal situation with regard to other mind-altering (or ‘psycho-active’) drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, acid, and heroin. The first question this offers is whether alcohol and other drugs should be treated the same? How do you make a difference? Further on the question is also, what is an effective policy regarding alcohol consumption. Is it higher prices or the ultimate “ban” approach?

Currently a few Islamic countries have the ban imposed, these are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and the Gaza. In 2002 also the “liberal Arabic country” Bahrain has started a debate about banning alcohol.[3]

In the past, the experience of ‘Prohibition’ in the USA in the 1920s and 1930s, when there was a huge black market in alcohol run by a powerful criminal underworld, makes most people very wary of trying to ban alcohol and equalize it with other drugs.

Some countries use a total ban on all types of alcohol; this also includes beer, wine as well as stronger liquor. Other countries (due to tourism and investment) have a special license for foreigners as the state connects the ban mainly to their Islamic heritage.[4]

Is it time to try to solve the alcohol problem through more restrictions and campaigns or is it time for a ban policy?

[1] WHO, Is harmful use of alcohol a public health problem?, February 2011, http://www.who.int/features/qa/66/en/index.html,  accessed 08/18/2011

[2] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Alcohol and Public Health Fact Sheet,   http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm, accessed 08/12/2011

[3] Hamada S., Debate on Proposed Alcohol Ban Far From Over, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50770, accessed 08/12/2011

[4] Baxter E., Over 40 % think Dubai should ban alcohol, arabianbussines.com,  http://www.arabianbusiness.com/over-40-think-dubai-should-ban-alcohol-150186.html, accessed 08/12/2011

 

 

Title 
Governments have the obligation to protect citizens from harmful substances
Point 

Alcohol is a mind altering drug, which can cause individuals to take actions they would have not done otherwise. This does not refer to loosened inhibitions, but also extends to harmful acts against themselves and others.

Democracy is based on the principle that the majority of people are to elect leaders and trust them with a term, where their duty is solely to look after the wellbeing of the country and its citizens. The politicians, having the resources and time which they have to use, to get well equipped to make more informed decision on activities dangerous to the individual, others and the society. One of the principles in society therefore is that elected representatives have to make sure their citizens get the best possible protection in society. Even if this infringes on some of their rights. Alcohol for a long time has been kept because the government trusted the people; they would make responsible decisions regarding alcohol.  However, each year, the society loses, on a 30 year based average, more than 75,000 individuals to alcohol related diseases or accidents.[1] Thus the citizens proved not to be responsible; even though they had information available they did not make the choice that would keep them alive.

The government has a duty to protect those irresponsible citizens, because otherwise they will not be able to contribute to society to the extent they could without alcohol. And because the government does not know who is the one that will make a stupid decision that will engender their lives in the long run, for the sake of few individuals’, alcohol has to be banned for all.

Therefore, because the government has been trusted with the duty to make informed decisions instead of the individuals and to protect the individual, it is right to allow them to ban alcohol if they believe it is very harmful.

[1] msnbc.com, Alcohol linked to 75,000 U.S. deaths a year, published 06/25/2005,  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6089353/ns/health-addictions/t/alcohol-linked-us-deaths-year/, accessed 08/13/2011

Counterpoint 

Individuals are sovereign over their own bodies, and should be free to make choices which affect them and no other individual.

Since the pleasure gained from alcohol and the extent to which this weighs against potential risks is fundamentally subjective, it is not up to the state to legislate in this area. Rather than pouring wasted resources into attempting to suppress alcohol use, the state would be better off running information campaigns to educate people about the risks and consequences of alcohol abuse.

Title 
Banning alcohol protects third parties (family members) from harm.
Point 

Alcohol is a contributory factor to a huge proportion of disputes and distress in society. It also contributes to the psychological problems of the alcohol consumer children. While the problem might not be connected to one individual in society, it is important that laws protect those, who might abuse their rights and with this hurt others.

Currently in the US alone, there is an estimated 6.6 million children under 18, which live in households with at least one alcoholic parent.[1] It was never the fault of these children that others started to drink and harm them. According to psychological studies many of the children coming from alcohol abuse families have problems such as low self-esteem, loneliness, guilt, feelings of helplessness, fears of abandonment, and chronic depression. Children of alcoholics in some cases even feel responsible for the problems of the alcoholic and may think they created the problem.[2]

Alcohol is also a great contributor not only to psychological, but also to physical damage. Many times, alcohol is an easy excuse for domestic abusers. The incidence of domestic abuse in households, where there is alcohol abuse is a lot higher and the abusers name the effects of alcohol as their main cause of violence.[3]

With taking away alcohol we take away the fuel of many of the abusers, thus protecting third involved parties.    

[1] Alcohol Information, Alcohol Statistics, http://www.alcohol-information.com/Alcohol_Statistics.html, accessed 08/14/2011

[2] Parsons T., Alcoholism and it’s effects on the Family, AllPsych Journal, published 12/14/2003, http://allpsych.com/journal/alcoholism.html, accessed 08/16/2011

[3] University of Minnesota, Alcohol and Domestic Violence, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/svaw/domestic/link/alcohol.htm, accessed 08/17/2011

Counterpoint 

Human beings are naturally inclined towards violence and conflict. Sex and violence are primal parts of our genetic make-up and we do not need alcohol to bring them to the surface.

A study conducted by the University of Osnabrück (Germany) explains that individuals who are the cause of domestic violence usually have very little or no capacity for empathy from the early stages of their development. It states, that the domestic violence is deeply rooted in their psychology. Thus, nothing to do with alcohol as the cause of third party harm.[1] Alcohol, at worst, may slightly exaggerate these tendencies - but that makes it the occasion not the underlying cause of violent crimes. The underlying causes are biological and social and abuse would happen anyway, even without alcohol.[2]

Making rape and murder illegal does not eradicate rape and murder, so it is unlikely that making drinking alcohol illegal will do so either.

[1] European Council of Europen - Human Rights, Explaining the inclination to use violence against women, October 1999, http://www.europrofem.org/contri/2_04_en/en-viol/66l-en_vio.htm, accessed 08/17/2011

[2] Hanson D., Drinking Alcohol and Domestic Abuse, State University of New York, http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1090863351.html, accessed 08/17/2011

Title 
Banning alcohol would lead to healthier individuals.
Point 

A ban of alcohol would have a great impact on the health of every individual.

Alcohol and especially alcohol abuse are very common problems in today’s society. Long lasting abuse of substances leads to many chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders.[1]

With a ban of alcohol we would very much lower the rates of consumption, as already current drug laws show. Even though drugs have a similar effect as alcohol, because of the risk of consequences when using those substances.

Therefore in general the number of alcohol addiction would sink and cause also less of a financial health burden. According to the US alone, the economic cost of alcohol abuse in 1998 was 184.6 billion dollars. [2] This is a burden which many state budgets have to bear.

Therefore if this cost can be prevented, the lives of people improved (by not getting the chronic diseases) we should do so.     

[1] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Alcohol and Public Health,  http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#healthProb, accessed 08/17/2011

[2] Harwood, H.; The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992. Report prepared for the

National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, http://faceproject.org/topics/pdfs/Chap06C.pdf, accessed 08/17/2011

Counterpoint 

First of all alcohol abuse (excessive amounts of alcohol) contribute only to a small percentage of all alcohol use in society. Even in Germany, where prices of beer are very low in comparison to other beverages, the data shows, that only 1.7 million (in a country of more than 80 million) use alcohol in a harmful way.[1] So why force people to give up something, just because a minority is not sure how to use it.   

Further on, even if it was a concerning amount of people whose health is impacted by alcohol abuse, campaigns and information have very effectively reduced the death rate for cirrhosis. During a 22-year period, death from cirrhosis: dropped 29.8% among black men, 15.3% among white men, 47.9% among black women and  33.3% among white women[2]

[1] Ryan R., The Highs and Lows of Germany's Drinking Culture, published 11/18/2006, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2226609,00.html, accessed 08/18/2011

[2] Hanson D., Alcohol – Problems and Solutions, State University of New York, http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAbuse.html, accessed 08/18/2011

Title 
The state should keep alcohol legal in order to maximize citizens’ rights.
Point 

Governments are not there to be the mothers of citizens, but should allow people to freely live their lives as long as they do not hurt others.

A government might have the wish to build a society that is obedient, productive and without flaws. This may also mean a society without alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or any other addictive substances. Such a society might have its benefits in a short term, but seen long term it has more unsatisfied individuals.  

With drinking alcohol responsibly no one is getting harmed; in many cases not even the individual, as it is actually beneficial for the health. A glass of wine per day is good for decreasing the risk of cancer and heart disease, scientists say.[1]

So if someone in society has decided that it is good for them for whatever reason possible to use a substance that impacts only them, the state should not prevent them from doing so. This is because the society has been made from the different individuals, which lead different lifestyles and therefore have very opposing opinions views on what freedom is. A society that is free and where individuals are happy is a society where individuals engage more and also give more back to the society. So if alcohol will make the people happy and then more productive, we should maintain status quo.

[1] Bauer J., Is wine good for you ?, published 6/4/2008,  http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/21478144/ns/today-today_health/t/wine-good-you/, accessed 08/14/2011

Counterpoint 

The state is obligated, when the health of citizens is on the line, to pass laws and regulations that protect them. The precedent has already been established in most countries with most forms of drugs. Citizens’ rights in this case are not a right to have drugs, but a right to be protected from the harmful effects of the substances, not merely on their own bodies but society as a whole. Governments would be derelict in their duty if they did not act to remove such harmful substances from society.

Title 
Prohibition would be impractical and serve only to create an enormous black market
Point 

In comparison to any other drug, alcohol is very easy to produce (hence the great amount of vineyards) and very much engraved in the culture of especially European countries.    

Therefore a ban would be very ineffective, as the people would do it due to the ease of producing alcohol and the cultural acceptance. A ban would bring just more deregulation and loss of taxes through the black market.

We might acknowledge that the legal implications will scare away some people from drinking alcohol, but the main part of population will want more. Because there is a strong inelastic demand and the illegal supply will flourish.

This can be seen already with both and illegal drugs. It is also the lesson of Prohibition in the USA in the 1920s. Smuggled alcohol brought in from much cheaper continental countries will undercut both pubs and law-abiding retailers, and will circumvent the normal regulations which ensure consumer safety, such as proof-of-age or quality controls. In Saudi Arabia, a country with an alcohol ban, the Saudi police had seized over 100,000 bottles of eau-de-cologne with an expired expiration date. The methanol in cologne recently led to the deaths of over 20 people who drank it and many others were blinded. Earlier, over 130,000 bottles were confiscated.[1] Because people wanted alcohol so badly and could not get it. While in Europe there might not be much of poisoning going on, a great amount of alcohol because of the different wine regions. Only Spain has already 2.9 million acres of land devoted entirely to the planting of wine grapes. However, it is only number 3 when it comes to the amount of wine actually produced.[2] So in comparison to the Arabic countries, there is a lot of ground where easily to produce alcohol and therefore making it hard to control.   

Worse, criminals will find a market for cheap, home-brewed alcohol, of the kind which kills or blinds hundreds of people a year in countries like Russia.[3] Overall criminality will flourish, with the gang violence associated with Prohibition or the drugs trade.

An alcohol ban has worked mainly in countries where it is very tight tied to religion and to the religious practices. Especially in countries that are secular and more multicultural, the ban would be impossible to enforce. The harms associated with black market alcohol are too great for us to risk introducing this proposal.

[1] Hanson D., Alcohol – Problems and Solutions, State University of New York, http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAbuse.html, accessed 08/18/2011

[2] A Beginners Guide to Spanish Wine, http://www.eventswholesale.com/article/spanish-wine.htm, accessed 08/18/2011

[3] Sodertorns Hogskola, The Alcohol Use in Russia and the Baltic Sea Region, published April 2000,   http://webappl.sh.se/C1256C930076231F/0/17B99CCA2C0854EAC1256D130035BA03/$file/12.pdf, accessed 08/18/2011

 

Counterpoint 

In any single law, that prohibits substances there is going to be the danger of a black market. In Canada, a black market for alcohol developed despite the legal status of alcohol (it was due to high taxation). The Association of Canadian Distillers actually estimated that 25 % of all spirits in Ontario are consumed illegally (without paying taxes).[1]

The problem therefore is not going to lay in the ban itself, but in the enforcement of legislation and thorough control of the markets.  

[1] Mackenzie Institute, Prohibition’s Hangover – Ontario’s Black Market and Alcohol,  http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/1997/1997_10_Sex_Alcohol.html, accessed 08/17/2011

Title 
Banning alcohol is a quick fix to a wider societal problem.
Point 

By banning alcohol the government is searching for a quick way out of the problem of people excessively drinking, making bad decisions when under the influence of alcohol.

Alcoholism and also drunk driving is a problem in many countries over the world. It has taken governments for over 30 years to decrease the number of drunk driver accidents, to decrease the number of drinkers in certain regions. This is a hard campaign battle, the government has to battle. According to a recent study, by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, campaigns contribute to approximately 13 % of decrease in drinking through time. This is a number with which many governments are not satisfied as they are pouring a lot of money in the campaigns.[1]  In Scotland alone, the annual expenditure for the “drink driving campaign was £141000.[2] Because of quite high expenditure on campaigns, countries may see a ban as an easy way out of these expenditures. Therefore for the government it seems maybe reasonable to prevent just all citizens from drinking. With this the government might be saying that the problem is fixed (because no one is allowed to drink alcohol anymore), but mainly it is just superficially solving it.

As people’s mentality has not changed just through a law passing, they have created only more problematic users, they cannot target with campaigns and so do not impact the society. A quick public message that they fixed the superficial problem, while leaving citizens in their misery.

[1] Elder R., Effectiveness of Mass Media Campaigns for Reducing Drinking and Driving and Alcohol-Involved Crashes, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published 2004,  http://meagherlab.tamu.edu/M-Meagher/%20Health%20Psyc%20630/Readings%20630/Healthcompro/mass%20media%20drink%2004.pdf, accessed 08/13/2011

[2]Institute of Alcoholic Studies, Economic cost and benefits,  http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/economic_costs_benefits.pdf, accessed 08/13/2011

Counterpoint 

Laws change attitudes. Many times laws are the first step towards more approval of a certain new societal value and even lead the step to a quicker mentality change.

This was seen with the legalizing of gay marriages in many countries, among them also in some states in the US. In 2010 the approval among US citizens reached more than half of the population, which is a drastic improve from the past.[1] In the beginning there was very little approval of the policy and same-sex marriages in general, an open discussion about the law, the first actual practical implications of the law and consequences have over time gained more acceptances in most Western countries towards gay marriage.

The same principle will apply to an alcohol ban. While in the beginning there will probably be a lot of protest, there will probably also be a change of mentality later on.    

[1] Gallup, Americans acceptance of gay relations crosses 50 % http://www.gallup.com/poll/135764/americans-acceptance-gay-relations-crosses-threshold.aspx, accessed 08/13/2011

Title 
Banning alcohol harms the economy.
Point 

Not only would banning alcohol infringe people’s civil liberties to an unacceptable degree, it would also put thousands of people out of work. The drinks industry is an enormous global industry.

In 2007, it was a $970 billion global market for alcoholic beverages, experiencing a period of unprecedented change. While about 60 percent of the market was still in the hands of small, local enterprises, truly global players are steadily emerging and creating an even greater market. There are not good enough reasons for wreaking this havoc on the world economy.[1]

A point further on is that currently governments raise large amounts of revenue from taxes and duties payable on alcoholic drinks. To ban alcohol would take away a major source of funding for public services. In addition, the effect of banning alcohol would call for additional policing on a huge scale, if the prohibition were to be enforced effectively. If would create a new class of illegal drug-users, traffickers, and dealers on an unprecedented scale.

[1] Jackson J., Spirited performance, published May 2007,  http://www.accenture.com/us-en/outlook/pages/outlook-journal-2007-alcoholic-beverages-industry-report.aspx, accessed 08/17/2011

Counterpoint 

It is true that currently thousands of people are employed by the alcoholic drinks industry. However the fact that an immoral industry employs a lot of people is never a good argument to keep that immoral industry going (similar arguments apply to the cases of prostitution, arms dealing, fox hunting, battery farming, etc.) Instead, a gradual process would have to be implemented, which would include governments providing funding for training for alternative careers.

Also it is true that tax revenues would be lost if alcohol were banned. However, again, this is not a principled reason to reject the proposition, simply a practical problem. It should be pointed out that governments would save a huge amount of money on police and health spending (through the reduction in crime and alcohol-related illness) which would go at least some of the way to offsetting the decreased tax revenues.

Bibliography 

Single author

3. Hamada S., Debate on Proposed Alcohol Ban Far From Over, IPS, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50770, accessed 08/12/2011

4. Baxter E., Over 40 % think Dubai should ban alcohol, arabianbussines.com,  http://www.arabianbusiness.com/over-40-think-dubai-should-ban-alcohol-150186.html, accessed 08/12/2011

8. Parsons T., Alcoholism and it’s effects on the Family, AllPsych Journal, published 12/14/2003, http://allpsych.com/journal/alcoholism.html, accessed 08/16/2011

11. Hanson D., Drinking Alcohol and Domestic Abuse, State University of New York, http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1090863351.html, accessed 08/17/2011

13. Harwood, H.; The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992. Report prepared for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, http://faceproject.org/topics/pdfs/Chap06C.pdf, accessed 08/17/2011

14. Ryan R., The Highs and Lows of Germany's Drinking Culture, published 11/18/2006, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2226609,00.html, accessed 08/18/2011

15. Hanson D., Alcohol – Problems and Solutions, State University of New York, http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAbuse.html, accessed 08/18/2011

16. Bauer J., Is wine good for you ?, published 6/4/2008,  http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/21478144/ns/today-today_health/t/wine-good-you/, accessed 08/14/2011

24. Jackson J., Spirited performance, published May 2007,  http://www.accenture.com/us-en/outlook/pages/outlook-journal-2007-alcoholic-beverages-industry-report.aspx, accessed 08/17/2011

Multiple authors/unknown

1. WHO, Is harmful use of alcohol a public health problem?, February 2011, http://www.who.int/features/qa/66/en/index.html,  accessed 08/18/2011

2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Alcohol and Public Health Fact Sheet,   http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm, accessed 08/12/2011

5. Wikipedia, United Arab Emirates,http://wikitravel.org/en/United_Arab_Emirates#b, accessed 08/18/2011

6. msnbc.com, Alcohol linked to 75,000 U.S. deaths a year, published 06/25/2005,

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6089353/ns/health-addictions/t/alcohol-linked-us-deaths-year/, accessed 08/13/2011

7. Alcohol Information, Alcohol Statistics, http://www.alcohol-information.com/Alcohol_Statistics.html, accessed 08/14/2011

9. University of Minnesota, Alcohol and Domestic Violence, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/svaw/domestic/link/alcohol.htm, accessed 08/17/2011

10. European Council of Europen - Human Rights, Explaining the inclination to use violence against women, October 1999, http://www.europrofem.org/contri/2_04_en/en-viol/66l-en_vio.htm, accessed 08/17/2011

11. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Alcohol and Public Health,  http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#healthProb, accessed 08/17/2011

17. Mackenzie Institute, Prohibition’s Hangover – Ontario’s Black Market and Alcohol,  http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/1997/1997_10_Sex_Alcohol.html, accessed 08/17/2011

18. A Beginners Guide to Spanish Wine, http://www.eventswholesale.com/article/spanish-wine.htm, accessed 08/18/2011

20. Sodertorns Hogskola, The Alcohol Use in Russia and the Baltic Sea Region, published April 2000,   http://webappl.sh.se/C1256C930076231F/0/17B99CCA2C0854EAC1256D130035BA03/$file/12.pdf, accessed 08/18/2011

21. Gallup, Americans acceptance of gay relations crosses 50 % http://www.gallup.com/poll/135764/americans-acceptance-gay-relations-crosses-threshold.aspx, accessed 08/13/2011

22. Elder R., Effectiveness of Mass Media Campaigns for Reducing Drinking and Driving and Alcohol-Involved Crashes, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published 2004,  http://meagherlab.tamu.edu/M-Meagher/%20Health%20Psyc%20630/Readings%20630/Healthcompro/mass%20media%20drink%2004.pdf, accessed 08/13/2011

23 Institute of Alcoholic Studies, Economic cost and benefits,  http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/economic_costs_benefits.pdf, accessed 08/13/2011

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