I've read the stats which show that Scotland's alcohol consumption is lower than it's ever been in the last 50 year, and lower than many other European countries. The normal stats that get banded about by the high and mighty tend to be those which are 10 years old. But, don't get me wrong, I think Scotland has a bad relationship with alcohol which needs to be annulled and quantity consumed isn't really the issue as I see it.
The problem is that it's socially acceptable to 'get plastered'. It's socially acceptable to take a pee in a bush. It's socially acceptable to fall flat on your face, or be sick in public (as long as you do it down an alleyway), and it's socially acceptable to drink to you fall asleep.
Society is the problem. That's why I'm not convinced on the effect that charging a minimum price per alcohol unit will solve much. Alex Salmond has said previously that this will reduce the number of middle class drinkers, drinking wine during the week. He's right. But, what's the problem with this? These drinkers don't cause much hassle to the rest of society, and tend to have their own health insurance. Maybe it's a good thing, but I don't think it helps Scotland improve as a country, unless you consider the knock on effects of their children and the next generation being a bit more sensible and not alcohol reliant. It's a bit of a long shot though, and maybe there is more than one way to skin a cat.
The problem I have is with Big Mad Tam. Big Mad Tam earns the minimum wage. He's a bricklayer lets say. He works hard, and expects (rightly or wrongly in this day) that he comes home to a cooked meal and watches the Celtic game on his cracked cable box, while his kids play with their stole Nintendo DS he got from the Barras. This is all they can afford, because they don't have much money.
Big Mad Tam, then comes home on a Friday and has his 6 cans of lager, and bottle of Buckfast/Other High Alcohol wine. Big Mad Tam works hard all week and thinks 'he deserves a drink' after working hard all week to put Iceland Lasagne on the table. You can probably see where I'm going with this. Big Mad Tam will continue with his six cans and bottle of Buckfast. You see, he deserves a drink after a hard week. If you put the price up from £8 for that to £15, where's it going to come from and who's the loser. Big Mad Tam deserves his drink after working hard all week after all.