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Debate: Alcohol ban

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Should the sale and consumption of alcohol be further restricted, or even banned?

Background and context

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.


Contents

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Like a drug? Is alcohol comparable to other drugs in addictiveness/destructiveness?

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Yes

  • Alcohol is just as addictive and destructive as many illegal drugs. Those who do become addicted to alcohol often lose their marriages, jobs and families. A large proportion of homeless people find themselves in that position as a result of their alcoholism. Worse still, some people pay the highest price: Their lives.Any drug this addictive and destructive should be illegal.


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No

  • Alcohol has more positive social effects than other drugs. Alcohol as more positive social effects than other drugs. It generally heightens peoples sociability and "opens people up". This can help bonding between neighbors, colleagues, and even enemies. Most other drugs do not have such a socially desirable effect.


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Crime: Is prohibiting alcohol important to fighting crime?

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Yes

  • Alcohol is a major contributory factor to crime and discorder. 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.


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No

  • Humans are naturally mischievous; alcohol itself doesn't cause it. 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.



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Drunk driving: Is banning alcohol important to preventing drunk driving?

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Yes

  • Success against drunk driving has been inconsistent. 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.


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No

  • Recent progress against drunk driving has been 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.


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Consistency: Is banning alcohol important to legal consistency?

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Yes

  • We need consistency in our drug laws; banning alcohol will help achieve this. 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.



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No

  • We should have consistent drug laws, so legalize cannabis. Cannabis and alcohol should both be legal drugs since the vast majority of people know how to use them safely and responsibly.



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Industry: How does the existence of the alcohol industry factor in?

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Yes

  • The immorality of alcohol outweighs the costs of a ban on alcohol to the industry. 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.



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No

  • Banning alcohol would put thousands out of work. 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.



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Tax revenues: Is it unimportant that a ban would jeopardize tax revenues?

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Yes

  • Alcohol should be banned/restricted on principal; tax revenue is a practicality. 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.



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No

  • Governments raise significant revenue from taxes 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.



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Pro/con resources

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Yes


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No


See also

External links and resources:

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