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Minimum alcohol pricing supported

Setting a minimum alcohol price would not only save 3,400 lives but also cut hospital admissions number by 98,000 a year, an expert told a House of Commons committee.

Dr Petra Meier, of Sheffield University, said a minimum rate of 50p per alcoholic unit would cost a moderate drinker only an extra £12 a year.

While harmful drinkers, who are defined by government statistics as someone who drinks around 3,600 units a year, will have to pay an extra £163 a year.

Introducing different tax rates for strengths of alcoholic drinks would help reduce binge drinking and also have a positive effect on public health, she said.

The committee found that the evidence submitted by the Campaign for Real Ale backed the principle of  minimum alcohol pricing.

The organisation's head of policy and public affairs, Jonathan Mail, wrote: "A minimum price of 40p a unit of alcohol would increase the cost of mainstream beer brands in the off trade to a third of the price charged in most pubs.

"Such a change would influence consumer behaviour, leading to a greater percentage of alcohol sales being made through well run licensed premises."

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