Senin, 14 April 2008


Summary: Should the sale and consumption of alcohol – the world’s favourite drug – be further restricted, or even banned?
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Thomas Dixon ( United Kingdom )
Dr. Thomas Dixon is research fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.

Created: Monday, November 13, 2000
Last Modified: Monday, November 13, 2000


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. However, 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 that solution again. In this debate the proposition can argue either for tighter restrictions or for complete prohibition. This debate is one that boils down to a debate about what balance should be struck between the need to protect society on the one hand and the need to preserve individual liberties on the other.

Pros Cons
Alcohol is just as potentially addictive as many illegal drugs. Those who do become addicted to alcohol often lose their marriages, jobs, families, even their lives. A large proportion of homeless people find themselves in that position as a result of their alcoholism. Any drug this addictive and destructive should be illegal.
If one were sitting down to design the perfect society from scratch, one might be tempted not to allow the production and sale of alcohol, However, the main reason why the case of alcohol is different from that of other drugs is a social one rather than an empirical fact about the nature of the drug. Alcohol, unlike other drugs, is socially entrenched. It is an integral part of the social life and culture of most countries and to try to ban it is completely impractical. To criminalise billions of people around the world over night and create the biggest black market the world has ever seen (for the benefit of the criminal underworld) would be crazy.
Alcohol is a contributory factor to a huge proportion of crimes. Exact figures vary from country to country, but in many countries alcohol is a contributory factor in 60-70% of violent crimes, including child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and murder. Alcohol is far and away the leading cause of public disorder, street fights, etc. In short, alcohol is one of the prime causes of violence and crime in modern society, and its banning would reduce the incidence of these crimes at a strike.
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. At worst, alcohol 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. Making rape and murder illegal does not eradicate rape and murder, so it is unlikely that making drinking alcohol illegal will do so either.
Despite the fact that advertising campaigns such as those run in the UK over the past 30 years have been successful in reducing the incidence of drink driving, this success has not been mirrored in all countries. And even where it has, deaths and serious injuries caused by drunk drivers still run to the thousands each year. This is an unacceptable situation - alcohol should simply be banned.
The progress made against drink driving in recent decades has been very encouraging. We should continue to campaign against it and have every reason to hope that the current trend towards its eradication by a process of attitude-change and stigmatisation will continue. The fact that there are still some injuries and deaths is not a good enough reason to take away the civil liberties of the vast majority of law-abiding citizens by depriving them of the pleasure of drinking alcohol.
We need consistency in our drug laws. If cannabis, which is not very addictive and which results in virtually no violent crime or public disorder, needs to be banned because of its mind-altering effects, then how much more so should alcohol be banned.
Yes, we should have consistent drug laws, which is why it is absurd for cannabis to be illegal. Cannabis and alcohol should both be legal drugs since the vast majority of people know how to use them safely and responsibly.
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.
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. There are not good enough reasons for wreaking this havoc on the world economy.
It is also 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.
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.

This house would ban alcohol
This house would hit the bottle
This house believes that alcohol is the root of all evil

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