Writing in the Daily Mail, Anand wrote: “I believe a policy of minimum unit pricing, putting an end to recklessly cheap alcohol, represents an important starting point in a long-term change in our relationship with booze.
“The latest research by the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, Canada – a country that has successfully used minimum pricing for over a decade – shows that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum retail price of spirits and liqueurs reduces consumption by 6.8 per cent. This evidence illustrates how a minimum unit price, affecting the cheapest alcohol, could reduce hazardous consumption in the UK.
“For too long, retailers and producers have paid lip service to the promotion of responsible drinking while aggressively promoting, discounting and driving alcohol sales. We openly support the Government’s alcohol harm reduction strategy and its minimum unit pricing proposals. We know that these are tough and potentially unpopular decisions to make but we look to the Coalition to show strength, and press ahead with its proposed legislation.
“We are more than aware that minimum pricing is not the ‘magic bullet’ that will solve all our ills. Moreover, if it is ruled that EU competition trade laws have a higher precedence than the long-term health of British people, it may not even be considered legal.”
In contrast, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, wrote an article attacking the proposal.
“There is no doubt that a minority of people in Britain drink to harmful excess. But to punish the vast majority of responsible drinkers for the actions of a troublesome few seems to me to be not only unfair but downright perverse,” he wrote. “Particularly, when the lack of evidence or precedent means we don’t know if it would have any impact in the real world.
“How can the Government justify imposing price rises when hard-pressed families are already feeling the pinch and millions of ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet?”