MPs have hit out at the government's "failure of will and competence" to implement minimum pricing for alcohol, claiming it is too heavily influenced by large drinks companies.
Government policy over Britain's growing drink problem has been attacked in a report from the House of Commons Health Committee, which said that a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol would save an estimated 3,000 lives a year, while a 40p levy would save 1,100.
The report also calls into question the relationship that drinks companies have with ministers, accusing them of wielding more power over government policy than senior health professionals.
The select committee report said that a "shocking" rise in alcohol misuse in England was resulting in 30,000 to 40,000 deaths every year.
About 31% of men and 21% of women are now thought to be drinking "hazardously", with 9% of men drinking more than 50 units a week and 6% of women drinking more than 35 units a week – far more than the recommended levels.
Ministers also rejected the belief that minimum pricing would punish moderate drinkers, claiming that someone drinking only six units a week would shell out a mere 11p on their weekly bill at a 40p minimum rate, while a woman drinking the recommended maximum of 15 units would pay £6 more per week to fund their habit.