Drug and alcohol in the news

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The news and views from the national media

If the Lib Dems have any function now, it’s on issues such as drug decriminalisation, child detention, prison reform, surveillance: civil liberties. With Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour we have a puritanical left where personal freedom is less important than some holier-than-thou posturing. The hair shirt opposite of Theresa May’s nastiness… We could do with a party that believes in personal freedom. It’s a shame it’s led by the semi-vicarish Tim Farron, but if they can puncture some of the hypocrisy on drug laws, good for them. This is hardly radical, just sensible.

Suzanne Moore, Guardian, 12 October

Had the e-cigarette been invented and patented by a pharmaceutical company and promoted by the government, it would have failed. Big Pharma would have called the device Niquo-Stop453, made it from plastic, packaged it in boring green and white and sold it in chemists’ shops. No bureaucrat or corporate lackey would have thought, ‘What if we call it Unicorn Puke and sell it like a high-end electrical product?’ To smokers, switching to Niquo-Stop453 would have felt like a sad compromise: like being treated for a disease. Switching to Unicorn Puke feels like a choice.

Rory Sutherland, Spectator, 24 October

Whatever alcohol companies do to fight back against the declining popularity of booze, deep changes in British culture have made booze less attractive. Forget the horrific tales of drunken escapades from Magaluf to the Bullingdon Club. The real story is of the strange death of boozy Britain.

Tim Wigmore, New Statesman, 9 October

There is a contradiction at the heart of the policy agenda, where a rhetorical commitment to patient choice turns out to be fatally compromised by a paternalism that the health service claims to have abandoned. Patronising people and protecting them from themselves just won’t wash anymore. If we choose to smoke or vape, or drink or eat too much, that should be up to us.

Dave Clements, Guardian, 1 October

A balanced assessment of the evidence, rather than the ideology, surely is the best guide to policy. For my own part, a softening of the legislation on drug use (coupled, of course, with access to medical treatment), combined with a hardening of social attitudes against it appears the most fruitful way forward.

Hamish McRae, Independent, 21 October