Proposals for a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol and standardised cigarette packaging were noticeably absent from the Queen’s Speech yesterday, royal colleges have complained.
Both the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called the lack of concrete measures “disappointing”.
British Medical Association (BMA) chair Dr Mark Porter urged the government not to “shy away” from introducing the policies, which he claims could “save thousands of lives”.
“If the government U-turns on its pledge to deal with alcohol and tobacco related harm, we will have to question its commitment to protecting the nation’s health,” he said.
Dr Porter applauded the “courage” of politicians in Scotland, where a MUP is due to be introduced.
He added: “Ultimately taxpayers pay the price as the NHS picks up the bill for the damage to health and lives lost from tobacco and alcohol related causes.”
Nurses see the effects of smoking and alcohol misuse every day, according to RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter.
He said: “The RCN believes a minimum unit price would be an effective preventative measure that would reduce some of the strain, and associated costs to a system under great pressure.”
“We will be looking closely at the details of these proposals and will continue to represent the interests of members and patients during this challenging time for the health service.”
Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair called alcohol and smoking “two of the biggest challenges facing the NHS in the coming years.”
She said: “That the government has backed down on both of these issues is disappointing, and we urge ministers to reconsider the weight of evidence suggesting that action is needed.”
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