There are some superficially reasonable arguments against the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol: the market should find its own level, say, or hiking prices penalises all drinkers, not just the problematic ones. But such points count for nothing against the wider social costs of super-cheap booze.
While far from desirable, the binge-drinking mayhem in town centres each weekend is the least of the issue. Rather, it is the soaring number of long-term, often fatal, alcohol-related health problems – costing the NHS nearly £3bn annually – that clinches the case.
Evidence suggests a strong link between alcohol prices and the amount people consume. And health experts maintain that as many as 10,000 lives could be saved every year by a 50p-per-unit minimum. After too long swayed by the drinks industry, the Government is finally showing signs of listening. Not a moment too soon.