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Alcohol price proposals should go further

The proposed minimun unit pricing for alcohol should be higher to protect public health, said one health body.

The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) “strongly supports” a ban on multi-buy deals and the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP).   

But the AHA, which consists of charities and medical bodies like the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing, said raising the proposed MUP would save more lives and prevent more crime.   

During the consultation, the government has suggested pricing alcohol at 45 pence per unit.   

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA said: “The government's intention to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol is the fairest and most targeted way of helping those most at risk drinkers.   

“We will continue to seek a MUP of at least 50p, which research shows would reduce total alcohol consumption by 6.7%, saving around 20,000 admissions in the first year.”   

The government's consultation started in November last year with the aim of cutting down “binge drinking” culture.   

The Alcohol Strategy consultation is currently reviewing pricing alcohol by the unit and banning promotions to reduce alcohol consumption.     

“Doctors witness the human cost of alcohol misuse every day, from emergency admissions to hospital to witnessing the damage to health in patients and their families,” said Dr Vivienne Nathanson.  

The director of professional activities at the British Medical Association (BMA) added: “The evidence shows that more lives will be saved if the MUP is set to 50p, and the BMA is calling on the government to listen to the evidence.”  

Wine and Spirit Trade Association interim chief executive Gavin Partington said a MUP would do nothing to change the “root cause” of binge drinking.   He said: “Minimum unit pricing will punish responsible consumers with higher prices.   

“There is no evidence to prove that minimum unit pricing will tackle alcohol misuse - in fact the international evidence suggests that problem drinkers are least likely to be deterred by price rises.”