Health experts repeat minimum price calls

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum price, Alcoholic beverage, Government, Uk

Supermarkets: pile it high, sell it cheap
Supermarkets: pile it high, sell it cheap
Health experts have once again called for a minimum price of 50p per unit on alcohol as they warned there could be a sharp rise in deaths.

Health experts have once again called for a minimum price of 50p per unit on alcohol as they warned there could be 250,000 extra alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales over the next 20 years.

Three experts warned that the Government plans to introduce a ban on sales of drink below the cost of duty and VAT did not go far enough in an article in medical journal The Lancet​.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 8,664 such deaths in the UK during 2009 — up from 6,884 in 2000.

"I think all serious players in this believe that a unit price of about 50p really would save thousands of lives," one of the authors of the Lancet article and former president of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, told Sky News​.

"The country that's made the most dramatic progress in reducing consumption and liver disease is France and they've got quite a tough regulatory framework.

"For example, there's a complete ban on broadcast advertising of alcohol and there's a complete ban on sports sponsorship there.

"The industry there has tended to concentrate more on improving quality rather than quantity and they don't seem to have the same 'pile it high and sell it cheap' philosophy which seems to pervade our supermarkets."

We need a debate

In response to The Lancet​ report, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the trade needs a debate on the lastest facts.

"Since 2005, UK alcohol consumption per head has fallen by almost 11%. Far from being too close to Government, all alcohol producers have faced huge increases in tax and regulation in recent years.

"For beer, duty has increased by 26% since 2008. This has been hugely damaging, and the Government has plans for large increases in March, which would further hurt the brewing and pub sector on which a million UK jobs depend.

"We already have some of the highest alcohol tax levels in the world. Raising UK taxes further would be a burden on the vast majority who drink sensibly, and provide a potential bonanza for bootleggers and the booze cruise

"We need better awareness and measures targeted at the minority who misuse alcohol - and the industry is committed to work with the Government to achieve this."

Related topics: Legislation, Health & safety

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