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alcohol health alliance uk

Big brand booze cheaper than water for the World Cup

Posted 07/06/10

Branded alcohol prices have been slashed by almost half across the North East in preparation for this summer’s World Cup.

Multi-pack deals on offer in some of the region’s big four supermarkets, mean that 440ml cans of John Smiths, previously priced at 97p, are being sold for 50p or 49% less than they were at the start of the year, making them cheaper than bottled water.

Since January, Bulmers Original Cider has fallen in price by 40% at some stores from £1.55 to 94p a 568ml can, Smirnoff Ice is 47% cheaper at 55p a bottle compared to £1.05 and Stella has been reduced by a quarter of its original price to 66p a 330ml bottle.

The findings are part of a price survey conducted by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office. They have been compared to price research carried out earlier this year. Selling Alcohol at Pocket Money Prices, was published in January to highlight the super-low prices at which alcohol is being sold across the North East.

The Office’s latest investigation reveals that in some outlets, branded beer and lager is now being sold for less, per unit of alcohol, than own brand equivalents – for as little as 22p per unit.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “As the amount of alcohol we consume traditionally increases during the World Cup, so do associated problems such as hospital admissions, violent crime and domestic abuse.

“Consumption is directly linked to price, so these deals are hugely irresponsible and could ratchet up the problems with alcohol we already face as a region. In the North East one in three men and one in four women already drink at levels of increasing risk, we have the highest level of alcohol related hospital admissions and almost half of all violent crime is alcohol related.

“Only last week the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the Government’s own health advisors, recommended that a minimum price per unit of alcohol be introduced in the UK. We really need to make alcohol less affordable and less easy to buy if we are to reduce the negative impact it is having on the North East.”

Alcohol misuse, described as drinking at or above the NHS recommended limits of 2-3 units a day for women (about two small glasses of wine) and 3-4 units a day for men (about two pints of 4% strength lager), can have a negative impact on:

Although Balance is not suggesting that people stop drinking completely during the World Cup, the Office is suggesting that people keep an eye on how much they consume, particularly if drinking at home when it’s easy to underestimate how much people are pouring.

Anyone interested in tracking how much they are drinking during the World Cup can fill in a drink diary at www.nhs.uk/units or download a Drinks Tracker at www.nhs.uk/alcohol.

Throughout the World Cup Balance will be raising awareness of the negative impact that alcohol misuse can have on health and the family. A high profile radio campaign will provide listeners with helpful advice and tips including alternating alcoholic and soft drinks to reduce the likelihood of a hangover or how to stay safe from harm when drinking.

Listeners will also be encouraged to complete a World Cup drinks diary setting how they drank during England games, asking how much they drank, where they drank, whether they consumed soft drinks and whether their children were present while they drank.

Awareness raising teams will also be visiting large employers across the region, including KP Foods in Teesside and Cummins in Darlington, to hand out information.