Call to ban alcohol sales at 'pocket money prices'
Wednesday 14 December 2011
Thousands of lives could be saved if cheap alcoholic drinks were made more expensive, medical experts said.
A group of leading doctors and academics urged the Government to bring in a minimum price for alcoholic beverages, saying that "pocket money prices" should be a thing of the past.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, 19 experts said there was an "urgent need" to raise the price of cheap alcohol.
The appeal was made before MPs debate alcohol taxation today in Westminster Hall.
The letter, signed by the Royal College of Physicians, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing among others, said: "There is a wealth of evidence to show a direct correlation between alcohol affordability and levels of harm.
"In 2010, alcohol was 44% more affordable than in 1980, a trend mirrored by an increase in cases of alcohol-related health problems and social damage.
"We urgently need to raise the price of cheap drink. Harmful drinkers and young people are likely to be the most responsive to price increases.
"In particular, we need to narrow the price gap between alcohol in bars and restaurants and alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences, to make bulk discounts and pocket money prices a thing of the past."
The letter continued: "There is a push towards a minimum price for each unit of alcohol in the devolved nations of the United Kingdom, with the SNP leading the debate in Scotland. This is a simple and effective mechanism for the Scottish Government to control alcohol prices.
"If the Coalition is not ready for such bold action, MPs must not lose sight of the importance of taxation as a means not only to lower alcohol consumption but also to direct revenue into the public purse."
Each year, alcohol causes the admission of more than a million people to hospital, is linked to 13,000 new cases of cancer and is associated with one in four deaths among young people aged 15 to 24, the experts said, warning MPs they must "act now".
Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott today called for Government action on alcohol prices.
"Alcohol has been too cheap for too long," she said. "There are record numbers of people being admitted to hospital for alcohol abuse. And the number of under 18s is rising steeply.
"All the medical evidence points to the need for a minimum price per unit of alcohol. Alcohol abuse is not just a health issue, it is a public order issue."
Life & Style blogs
International Kissing Day: Why it feels good
World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Kristen Stewart opens star-studded Chanel show with Julianne Moore, Rita Ora and Lily Collins on the runway
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...