There's plenty of ambulances out most nights in British towns as the heavy-drinking culture in this country leads to health emergencies and violence.
Credit: Matt Cardy

British Conservative politicians rail about the "nanny state" all the time but that has never stopped them acting like nannies when they are in government.

Today the Conservative-led coalition government announced it would introduce minimum price rules on alcoholic beverages. The reason for the move is Britain's undoubted alcohol problem. Deaths from liver disease are up 25 percent in less than a decade.

Binge drinking - particularly among the young - with attendant social mayhem is another huge problem.

Not that it's cheap to get a drink anyway. Taxes have been rising on beer, wine and spirits steadily for decades. This has seen the price of a friendly pint in a pub go up accordingly. It's now way beyond the means of the average young person to put a pleasant buzz on down at his local. So the new trend is to "pre-load," drink cheap supermarket beer or cider early in the evening and then arrive at the pub already drunk.

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May announced today the government has decided to step on this practice by making a minimum price of 40 pence a unit of alcohol. A bottle of wine, by British standards of measurement, has 10 units of alcohol, a pint of beer has 3.

The new minimum price would make a can of beer around 40 percent more expensive than it is at the moment. A bottle of cheap wine would go up almost as much. Strong cider - the favorite tipple of the young and cashless would almost double in price.

The move is being called the most significant public health intervention since smoking was banned in public places five years ago.

It is also being called another "tax on the poor" in the Conservative-supporting - and anti-nanny state - Daily Telegraph.

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