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Alcohol minimum price introduced in England and Wales

Minimum alcohol pricing will be introduced in England and Wales, the government has announced. 

New rules to ban extreme discounting of alcohol will come into effect from 6 April 2014, the Home Office has said. 

However, the plans will only affect 1% of sales. A 440ml can of 5% beer will now have a minimum price of 50p. A standard bottle of 40% vodka would not be sold for less than £10.16, and a bottle of wine would retail for at least £2.24. 

Officials estimate that 1.3% of sales will become more expensive, and this will lead to a 0.04% drop in consumption. 

And it is hoped that the measure will save the NHS £5.3 million a year. 

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: "The coalition government is determined to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime, which costs England and Wales around £11bn a year.

"Banning the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT will stop the worst examples of very cheap and harmful drink."

Eric Appleby of Alcohol Concern said: "The idea that banning below cost sales will help tackle our problem with alcohol is laughable. It's confusing and close to impossible to implement.

"The government is wasting time when international evidence shows that minimum unit pricing is what we need to save lives and cut crime."