‘Don’t scrap plans’ for minimum alcohol pricing
9:22am Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
HEALTH chiefs in Bolton have said they would be “disappointed” if the Government scraps plans to introduce minimum alcohol pricing.
It comes after speculation that Prime Minister David Cameron may drop his plans for a base price of 45p per unit in England and Wales following criticism from senior Tory MPs.
A number of Cabinet ministers, including Home Secretary Theresa May, have made it clear they harbour doubts and have said the policy would penalise responsible low-income drinkers, rather than tackle problem drinkers.
The Prime Minister has said the Government is still examining the results of a consultation on the policy.
Yesterday he said he was “absolutely determined” to deal with the problem of “deeply discounted alcohol in supermarkets”.
He added: “We published proposals, we are looking at the consultation and the results to those proposals, but be in no doubt, we’ve got to deal with the problem of having 20p or 25p cans of lager available in supermarkets. It's got to change.”
Doctors’ leaders have urged Mr Cameron to be courageous and take a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save lives, save the country money”.
Wendy Meredith, Bolton’s director of public health, said: “It would be disappointing if, following the consultation on the National Alcohol Strategy, the government failed to implement unit minimum pricing.
“Evidence from Canada and from research conducted in this country strongly suggests that setting a minimum price at 50p a unit would save 3,060 lives, 97,700 alcohol- related hospital admissions and 42,500 crimes a year.
“All 24 directors of public health across the North West support a minimum unit price of at least 50p “In addition, pubs, bars and other on-trade premises will greatly benefit from a minimum price as it would reduce the differential in prices retailed in the off-trade and on-trade.
“This could result in a shift of drinking patterns to on-trade premises, which is a safer, regulated environment to consume alcohol and positive for community pubs.
“This is important as CAMRA reporting that 16 pubs are closing every week.”
l Calls for beer duty to be frozen: Page 33