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NICE urges alcohol pricing review

Minimum pricing and an advertising ban should be considered by the government if it is to take effective action on binge drinking, health experts have said.

New guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and a possible ban on advertising similar to that already imposed on the tobacco industry as part of a two-pronged approach to tackling Britain's binge drinking culture.

Although NICE did not explicitly say what the minimum price should be, many leading health bodies, including the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Faculty of Public Health, have already lent their support to the introduction of a 50p per unit levy.

Professor Mike Kelly, NICE's public health director, said such a move would "not penalise" trade drinking or pubs but would tackle the "aggressive promotion of heavily discounted alcohol" in supermarkets.

Evidence suggests that a 50p minimum price would lead to a 3.8% cut in how much moderate drinkers consume and a 10.3% cut for those drinking at levels hazardous to their health.

The coalition government has already said supermarkets and off-licences will be banned from selling alcohol below cost price.

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