Speaking as part of a panel debate at the Drinkaware annual conference last week, Tuppen suggested that the measure would “probably be deemed to be illegal under competition law”.
A minimum price of 45p per unit has been proposed by the Government as part of its Alcohol Strategy, which is aimed at tackling the perceived binge-drinking problem in the UK.
While Tuppen admitted that he supports ”anything that controls the consumption of alcohol”, he suggested that the plans put forward by the Government carry a number of “pitfalls”.
“I cannot see that the Government would successfully implement a minimum price,” said Tuppen. “I think I would far rather see greater understanding on the consumption side and greater responsibility on the spending side, rather than some entrenched minimum price.
“This is because I just sense that, while it will probably be deemed to be illegal under competition law, there are also many other pitfalls surrounding it and I don’t think that we should focus our future on that.”
However, the two other panellists — who were both from a medical background — voiced their support for a minimum price.
They dismissed arguments that minimum pricing is a “simplistic, misguided policy”.
Drinkaware’s chief medical advisor, Professor Paul Wallace, said: “It is one of many strategies, they all influence each other, and we shouldn’t kid ourselves at Drinkaware that we can do it on our own. We need these other measures.”
Drinkaware trustee and the chief executive of the Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST), Dr Catherine Brogan, added: “We know price is a great determinant of behaviour and that it was incredibly successful with cigarette smoking in reducing it.
“There is very sound evidence on that and I think it will be similar for alcohol.”