'Booze price rise for nation's health'

First published in Health News by

The government has unveiled plans for minimum alcohol pricing in England. The proposal suggests a minimum price of 40 pence per unit as part of a wider alcohol strategy to curb health problems and crime associated with binge drinking.

It is estimated that each year alcohol causes over 1 million NHS hospitalisations and 1 million violent crimes in England, primarily through binge drinking. Earlier this week NHS figures revealed that deaths from liver disease had risen by 25% in less than a decade, mainly driven by alcohol.

The price of most drinks would be unaffected by a 40p threshold, although many super-strength and own-brand products could see large price rises: at present some super-strength lagers and ciders contain 4.5 units per can but sell for less than a pound, equating to less than 20p per unit.

Some bottles of ciders could also double in price, as some supermarkets sell them for less than 20p per unit - an equivalent of less than 50p per pint. This is well below the £3-4 pounds for equivalent drinks sold in pubs.

The strategy has also called for consultation on multi-buy deals offering cheap alcohol in bulk. This is part of a 'zero tolerance' approach to dealing with drunken behaviour in A&E departments and new legislation over the licensing of pubs and clubs. The strategy is still at a proposal stage but the government hopes to implement it by 2015.

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