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Government considers new drink laws

The Government has warned it may bring in new legislation to stop shops selling cheap alcohol in an effort to improve the nation's health.

Ministers have already commissioned an independent review, which is due to report back next summer, into drink pricing and the damage done to health.

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage and obesity problems, as well as mental illness and even death.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw told the House of Commons: "We remain concerned about the practice by shops and supermarkets of deep discounting promotions - often as loss leaders and below cost price of alcoholic products.

"When I was growing up there was only drink in the house at Christmas and on special occasions, whereas nowadays many people drink regularly, even daily.

"Depending on the review's findings, we are prepared to change the law."

But Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the wine and spirit trade association, said: "The drinks industry is taking substantial action to reduce problem-drinking in Britain.

"At the same time, the Government should be focusing on things like improving education to deter excessive drinking rather than penalising everyone with higher tax.

"Raising taxes to raise the price of alcohol will be ineffective and unpopular."

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Department of Health