I had no idea when I wrote Alcopops and mixed drinks - The Head strikes (1 May 2008, the day that the press reported the Government's increase in taxes on pre-mixed drinks) just how quickly my forecast on outcomes would prove to be correct.
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a survey by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia suggested sales of alcopops had dropped by 38 per cent, while sales of 700ml bottles of spirits had increased by 21 per cent. A spokesman suggested that when other forms of alcohol such as beer and wine were taken into account, total consumption of alcohol might actually have increased
The Council is hardly an impartial body. The axes it has to grind would fell Tasmania's forests.
I tried to check details on its web site, but without success. Given this, I did as I so often do, checked elsewhere. According to a local bottle shop, Woolworth's sales of pre-mixed drinks have dropped by 30 per cent. Sales of spirits have gone up, although numbers were not available.
So we can say that the outcome of this measure has been much as expected. Now we can expect the next round, pressure for an increase in overall taxes on alcohol led by the growing proliferation of special interest bodies in the not-for-profit sector and the official advisory bodies, each of which has their own version of our interests at heart.
I see that Health Minister Nicola Roxon's view is: It's great to see the drop in vodka-based spirits, which we know are targeted at young women.
Ms Roxon's view is actually sexist. She appears to believe that young women need more protection than young men, when all the data appears to suggest that it is young men (as it always has been) who drink the most.