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alcohol health alliance uk

Cheap booze continues to fuel regionís alcohol problem

Posted 13/09/12

Alcohol continues to be sold at pocket-money prices across the North East despite the growing cost it is having on health, crime and the wider economy, a new price survey has revealed.

Balance, the North East alcohol office, has conducted a snapshot survey across the region’s supermarkets and found that alcohol is available for as little as 19p per unit.

Although this is higher than previous price surveys which have found alcohol from as little as 12p per unit, it means a man can still drink at his recommended daily limit (3-4 units) for just 76p and a woman can drink at her daily limit (2-3 units) for just 57p - well below the average weekly pocket money allowance of £6.25.

Balance is calling for more to be done to protect young people from alcohol harm, which includes introducing a minimum unit price on alcohol at an effective and realistic level. This is being supported by the UK Youth Parliament, which is run by young people and provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change.

The findings follow the recent publication of the report Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England which showed that the North East continues to have the highest proportion of young people who have ever drunk alcohol and who drank last week.

When visiting stores and shopping online the survey found:

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Here in the North East we continue to suffer at the hands of alcohol misuse with the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions and high rates of young people drinking.

“More 11-15-year-olds in England have drunk alcohol than have smoked or taken drugs combined. Alcohol significantly increases the risk that our children will be victims of crime, will try drugs or have unprotected sex. Price is a significant factor in this.

“It is frustrating and frankly irresponsible that alcohol continues to be sold at such low prices to sell more and increase profits, regardless of our children’s health and welfare.

“We need to do more to protect them. A key part of the solution is the introduction of a minimum unit price, which the Government has backed and will consult on later this year. It’s a targeted measure which will increase the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol – traditionally purchased by younger and heavier drinkers. Under a minimum 50p per unit, which is recommended by experts such as the British Medical Association, moderate drinkers would pay just 28p extra a week, saving thousands of lives and preventing tens of thousands of crimes.”

Isaac Duffy, Deputy Member of Youth Parliament Hartlepool said: “I think that the pricing of alcohol is absolutely critical to the consumer audience and introducing a minimum price is an excellent idea.

“If these measures do not stop young people drinking completely, it may be a solution to stop drinking on mass, which is often the worst and most dangerous way of drinking amongst young people. I am extremely happy UKYP support these measure as I think not only may it save lives in the long term, it may also teach young people to be more sensible with alcohol, which is obviously something that would affect the rest of their lives positively.”