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alcohol health alliance uk

Government still not tackling cheap alcohol

Posted 04/02/14

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “It is laughable that the Government has introduced a ban on sales of alcohol at below cost (defined as duty plus VAT) as a means to reduce the impact that cheap alcohol continues to have on society.

“Independent research from the University of Sheffield shows that the new policy will prevent 15 alcohol related deaths, reduce hospital admissions by 500 and see 900 fewer alcohol related crimes a year. A Minimum unit price of 45p, which had initially been proposed by the Government, would be up to 50 times more impactful.

“There is no evidence base to support a ban on sales of alcohol at below cost and it will have very little effect on the price of alcohol – particularly the products which cause the most damage to young and heavy drinkers such as white cider and cheap vodka. It’s also complicated to implement and police. It basically gives the alcohol industry the go ahead to give alcohol away, provided they collect duty and VAT.

“This measure enables the Government to say it is doing something but by listening to the alcohol industry, which proposed this measure, we will see more alcohol related deaths, crimes and hospital admissions. To tackle the problem of cheap, strong alcohol we need to introduce a minimum unit price. It is proven to reduce alcohol harms, saving thousands of lives, reducing hospital admissions and drastically cutting crime.”

Notes to editors:
Research published by the University of Sheffield demonstrates that banning below cost selling will have very little impact on alcohol consumption. It will reduce overall consumption by 0.04% (less than half a pint of beer, per drinker, per year) and will affect just 1.3% of all alcohol units sold.

Under the new policy, the average price of alcohol sold by supermarkets would be expected to rise by just 0.1%. For example, beers at 4% ABV could still be sold for 40p per 440ml can, a 700ml bottle of spirits at 40% for £9.49 and a two litre bottle of strong cider at 7.5% for as little as £1.43.