Pratten, J.D. (2009), "What are the possible solutions to the problem of excessive alcohol consumption?", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 1 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/whatt.2009.40801baa.002Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
What are the possible solutions to the problem of excessive alcohol consumption?
Article Type: Editorial From: Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Volume 1, Issue 2
As individuals become more affluent, they are able to spend increasing amounts of money on items for their own satisfaction, rather than devoting their income to essentials for themselves and their families. This has allowed many people to devote more of their income to the pleasures of alcohol. In addition, changes in attitudes have meant that wider sections of society have begun to participate in this activity. Inevitably, this has increased the number of those who suffer from alcohol-related problems. Originally, this edition was intended to look at the various solutions adopted by countries around the world, so as to arrive at suggestions for others to employ. Unfortunately, this approach did not produce a very positive response, with potential contributors announcing that the efforts within their own countries were not effective enough to be worth following or recommending. This then led to a different direction, with authors identifying specific problems related to alcohol consumption, and offering comments on how they could be addressed. The normal academic review process was augmented by the use of practitioners, who were asked to comment on how helpful the paper was to them in their work. These practitioners included the licensees of public houses – one actually read every paper – as well as the owner of a company supplying security to pubs and clubs, a night club manager and several policemen. This proved to be a very effective approach, with contributors saying how useful they found the comments of these practitioners.
In the opening paper, I initiate the debate by considering the many problems caused by alcohol abuse in the UK. These issues have existed for many years, but are currently under close scrutiny by the press, medical experts and the government. There are reasons for such attention. The changes in drinking habits from the working class male to the whole of society is a recent development, and the movement away from consuming in your own locality to the enjoying a night in town have combined to allow massive publicity for the antics of the younger drinkers. I suggest that this is the main cause of concern to society.
Richard C. Warren expands upon this theme, and argues that the disappearance of the temperance movement has allowed the emergence of the culture of binge drinking. He urges greater and more effective education to combat the problem.
James J. Fogarty has made a study of the impact of price upon the quantity purchased, and demonstrates carefully the reduction is purchases when price rises. His logical conclusion is that price controls are the best way to regulate levels of alcohol consumption. He realises that this does not necessarily mean that those with drinking problems would benefit, and so offers additional measures to remedy this. Krzysztof Kubacki, Dariusz Siemieniako and Heather Skinner consider the situation in Poland, and argue that a heavy drinking tradition, coupled with the desire of young people to model themselves on the UK is leading to a similar situation.
Nathalie Geraldine Ormrod has discovered that the traditionally lax attitude towards alcohol consumption has led to serious health problems. Moreover, the beginnings of a binge-drinking culture has forced the government to act to attempt to remedy this situation. Martin S. Meloche and John L. Stanton are less concerned about the position in the USA, and by the careful examination of statistical material have discovered that the UK is increasing its home consumption of white spirits at a far greater rate than can be found in the USA. This is valuable evidence, supporting the view that many Britons are taking advantage of far cheaper supermarket prices to allow heavier home consumption than was previously experienced. Caroline Ritchie, Felix Ritchie and Richard Ward have developed this theme, by surveying young people in the UK about their drinking habits, and have concluded that many, especially students, are consuming large quantities of cheap alcohol before going out, especially at weekends.
Finally, Amanda J. Pratten, a long-serving licensee, tells us about the variety of ethical problems which are faced in the job of alcohol service. She concludes that the role of the public house licensee is to comply with the law, and to run what is known as “an orderly house”. This will prevent excessive alcohol consumption from occurring on the premises, and it is the duty of the police and other statutory bodies to tackle the matter off the premises.
There is no easy solution to the many problems which emanate from the misuse of alcohol. These articles demonstrate that they are not confined to the UK, but is becoming a international phenomenon. There is clearly no simple solution, as many governments have initiated policies to control alcohol consumption, but none have proved to be fully successful. It is important that the problems are identified and individually addressed, with each policy carefully designed to tackle a specific issue. Further research of this type can help to discover the problem and initiate debate on potential solutions.
About the Theme Editor
John D. PrattenPrincipal Lecturer in the Business and Management Studies Department of the MMU Cheshire Faculty of Manchester Metropolitan University. His main research areas have been in hospitality in general and the alcohol service sector in particular. He has published over 50 refereed papers and a number of text books. In recent years, his interests have concentrated on corporate social responsibility within the alcohol sector, and he has endeavoured to suggest solutions to the problems of excessive consumption.
John D. PrattenTheme Editor