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Warning over "alcohol epidemic"

Leading doctors have said that ministers are failing to tackle Britain's drinking "epidemic" and are working too closely with the alcohol industry.

A report published by the British Medical Association (BMA) says that stronger Government action is needed to cut alcohol abuse, which devastates lives.

The call came as supermarket giant Tesco demanded action on the price of alcohol.

The BMA said that it believes the UK is in "the midst of an epidemic" and tough action is needed to stop alcohol misuse spiralling out of control.

It condemned supermarkets for selling alcohol as a "loss-leader", called for an end to pub and club happy hours and said addicts needed to be given better access to treatment.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA, said: "Our report is making some tough recommendations but if the Government is serious about tackling this issue, this is what is needed.

"Since 1997, taxes on wine and beer in the UK have only increased in line with inflation, while taxes on spirits have not increased at all.

"There is strong and consistent evidence that price increases result in reduced consumption and that increased opening hours are associated with increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems.

"The Government needs to act on this evidence."

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