One can take a wild guess that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is in favour of gun control. After all, guns are hazardous to one’s health. And yet, the WHO hasn't, till date, proposed to do away with rifle sports. One would assume it is because the correlation between firearm injuries and fatalities and sports involving guns is weak, despite the common item of the gun.
The WHO's relationship to booze, however, is much more strident. Like all good people, it also wants to espouse the virtues of moderation. But to suggest a ban on happy hours and other promotional devices like flat rates and special discounts to discourage underage drinking is, to put it soberly, bloody ridiculous and akin to proposing a ban on rifle sports in the Olympics to discourage carrying people carrying unlicensed revolvers.
Believe it or not, we share the concerns of the WHO authorities about underage drinking. Being young (sigh) makes one believe in one's immortality — and in the immortality of the organs of one's body in particular. And the nuisance of student types going out on a binge is one of urban civilisation’s most potent curses. But there is a law that's supposed to prohibit under-age drinking.
So instead of doing away with the economically beneficial practice of happy hours for those who can, by law, drink, why doesn’t the WHO focus on cracking down on underage drinking per se?
Sure, those guys will pummel us with data showing that bans on happy hours have brought down underage drinking in countries like Australia and China. But we can also show them how countries that used the guillotine showed a lower proportion of people suffering from dandruff than others. Happy hours, like drinking itself, are for grown-ups.
But if some teetotaling totalitarian government official does end up listening to the WHO guys and decides to ban happy hours, we'll be cool with it only if the prices of drinks are halved.