Today Diageo unveiled its masterplan to end the menace of binge drinking and save the public finances.
Its proposal to “equalise” the duty on all types of alcohol could generate, the company says, almost £2bn more for the public coffers each year.
Significantly upping the duty on beer, wine and cider sounds like a pretty creative suggestion from a drinks company – and one unlikely to go down well with drinkers.
Certainly The Sun – that ever-reliable barometer of public opinion – was suitably outraged at proposals to “slap MORE tax on a pint” (their use of capitals).
You can understand where Diageo is coming from. It’s ploughed piles of cash into developing pre-mixes for brands such as Smirnoff to secure its position in a fledgling market that offers far higher margins than the likes of Guinness (whose volumes are falling anyway).
Having gambled on RTDs, Diageo must be concerned by the prospect of legislation that would single out these ‘problem drinks’ for the harshest treatment.
Of course, common sense tells you there’s no such thing as problem drinks, only problem drinkers. But that’s probably not the sort of creative suggestion Whitehall wants to hear.
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