Foreigners used to be shocked by English drinking habits during Elizabethan times, and Hogarth's famous pictures, Gin Lane and Beer Street, make it clear that excessive gin drinking was a major worry in the eighteenth century. It's ironic that Beer Street was intended to show the merits of drinking beer, as opposed to the ruinous effects of gin; such a comparison nowadays would elicit strong disapproval from the anti-booze brigade with their spurious unit-counting diktats. So not only is there nothing new: official attitudes are actually more illiberal than they were 250 years ago, and certainly no more rational.
Few people would object to a mature, sober discussion about alcohol. With screaming headlines and politicians who fear the tag "soft on antisocial behaviour", we're not going to get it.