Drinking Culture

In the news today, the WHO is saying that Denmark has a drinking problem. Despite improvements in the extent of youth drinking due to legal age restraints, it is simply not enough. They are recommending higher taxes on alcohol and harsher restrictions, and formulating a national alcohol strategy. I think they have a valid point.

Our new government is quietly listening. The socialists have promised higher taxes on other unhealthy products, and coalition partner Radikale have higher alcohol taxes as part of their political program. It will be interesting to see if they come through and actually succeed in changing behaviour.

I am not a teetotaller.

While red wine may have some health benefits, alcohol in general is definitely not good for you. Neither is pastry. My relationship to cake, chocolate, candy, etc. is probably worse than my relationship to alcohol.

Where alcohol differs from these is in its societal impact. Yes, having a few drinks can lighten up a party, but there is also the risk of driving people into addiction, violence, and more. This is not always the case, of course, and it is not a good reason for banning alcohol completely, but it does call for advocating a certain measure of moderation.

Basically, drink responsibly. And promote a culture where having a drink is fine, but not necessarily an integral part of every social occasion. People can have plenty of fun and still be able to drive home. A glass of wine is great, but not something you need every day – just like dessert. Getting moderately drunk once in a while can be a way of letting go of yourself, but if it happens every week you may want to reconsider your priorities.

As such, I am all for restricting access to alcohol for minors, and I believe higher taxes to curb destructive behaviour is in order. Especially since our society applies the same logic to other unhealthy consumer items, such as tobacco and sweets. But rules and regulations can only be one pillar in driving a change; the other is impacting public opinion and popular culture in a more responsible direction.

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Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

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