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23 March 2012

Govt Considers Minimum Alcohol Pricing

Plans for a minimum price on alcohol are being proposed by the government in an effort to curb binge drinking.

Ministers say the minimum price of 40p per unit would not effect responsible pubs or drinkers but predict it could significantly change the behaviour of those who cause the most problems for hospitals and the police, by making it more expensive to get drunk.

Under the new proposals a minimum price would be established, such as the 40p per unit being considered, and retailers would not be allowed to offer alcohol below that level.

While it would not alter the price of most drinks it could significantly alter the price of heavily discounted ciders, super-strength lager and cheap spirits.

David Cameron said the government wanted to reverse a drinking culture that last year contributed to one million alcohol-related violent crimes and 1.2 million hospital admissions.

"Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue,” the Prime Minister said, “it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities."

He added: "We're consulting on the actual price, but if it is 40p that could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 900 fewer alcohol related deaths per year by the end of the decade."

Other proposals include banning buy-one-get-one-free deals but, at the same time, it continuing to allow half-price promotions, and a plan for a ‘late-night levy’ which would make pubs and clubs help pay for policing.

Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium said the proposal was "seriously misguided".

"It's simplistic to imagine a minimum price is some sort of silver bullet solution to irresponsible drinking," he said.

"Irresponsible drinking has cultural causes and retailers have been hugely engaged in information and education to change attitudes to drinking.

"It's a myth to suggest that supermarkets are the problem or that a pub is somehow a safer drinking environment. Effectively, a minimum price is a tax on responsible drinkers."

(H)





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