Since the second world war the alcohol industry has become one of the most powerful and successful in the UK. Intake has grown steadily, each person on average drinking more than twice that consumed in 1945. Successive governments have often made decisions that increase sales, the most significant being the opening up of alcohol sales in supermarkets; increasing the daily hours that alcohol can be purchased, usually at discounted prices; and the extension of pub drinking hours.
The alcohol industry has successfully grown its market into under-age drinking groups by making available innocent-tasting alcopops; advertising alcohol in a glamorous and cool way with "psychedelic" or stimulant overtones; and increasing the availability of high-strength drinks, the most dangerous of which are the 8-9% ciders and lagers, providing the cheapest way to get drunk.
The alcohol industry, naturally, is denying its role in creating this problem and is making no serious attempt to moderate its contribution to the enormous harms caused. One step that could be taken is for parliament to hold an inquiry into the impact of the alcohol lobby on the legislative process over the past generation.
David Nutt: I am not a prohibitionist, The Guardian, 5 November 2010.