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Comment – UK opposition announces plans to scrap units system

decanter.com editor Adam Lechmere

‘My Decanter colleagues were non-plussed…’

Anything which clarifies a confusing state of affairs should be welcomed.

Government guidelines on safe drinking based on units per day or week are difficult to follow. Who can readily say what their ‘sensible drinking’ limits are? How much is a ‘standard drink’? A 250ml wine glass, which is now standard in many bars, holds a third of a bottle of wine: how many units is that?

The Tories’ suggestion of labelling with centilitres of pure alcohol is a step towards putting the onus on the consumer to be aware of what they are drinking, and of their limits if they are getting in a car, for example.

They will no longer have to think in abstract ‘units’ but in quantifiable metric measures.

But it would involve yet another set of explanations: how many centilitres of alcohol are there in a pint of 6.6%ABV beer, or a glass of 13.5% alcohol wine?

My Decanter colleagues were non-plussed when I asked them how many centilitres of pure alcohol they had drunk on Christmas Day. They got there in the end, with calculators.

Clarification is the best option.

The majority of drinkers are responsible and quite aware of their limits, and will be irritated by yet another set of government guidelines.

It’s the problem drinkers who should be targetted – and they in their turn will generally be in no mood to reach for the calculator.

Adam Lechmere is editor of decanter.com

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UK opposition announces plans to scrap units system

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