UK

Opinions vary on government's minimum alcohol price plan

  • 23 March 2012
  • From the section UK
Image caption The government's plan for a minimum alcohol price has divided opinion

Brewers, medics and police officers are among those to share their thoughts on government plans for a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol in England and Wales to combat binge drinking.

Opinions have varied on the issue, with some welcoming it while others have been critical of the proposal.

Jane Bevis, British Retail Consortium

"Supermarkets and other shops do not sell alcohol to people who are drunk, it's pubs and clubs who are selling alcohol to people who have had too much too drink.

It's actually quite puzzling that Number 10 has decided to put this out today and trump their own secretary of state who has been launching, as part of the health responsibility deal, a pledge by supermarkets and others involved in the alcohol industry to reduce consumption by a billion units.

"Including making the number of units in each bottle very visible and in a consistent way to help consumers do this in a responsible manner."

Dr Kieran Moriarty, consultant gastroenterologist at Royal Bolton Hospital

"I've just spent four hours going around my liver ward this morning and it's full of people who are drinking 100, 200 units and more a week of cheap alcohol.

"This whole debate primarily is about trying to restrict the drinking of cheap alcohol and help vulnerable people who have been exploited by the drinks industry. And the single measure that would have most impact on Britain's alcohol epidemic would be to introduce minimum unit pricing."

Mark Hunter, chief executive of Molson Coors, the UK's largest brewer

"We want to work with the government to tackle alcohol misuse. We believe that extremely low prices - those sold below cost - do not build respect for our brands or alcohol.

"We welcome the opportunity to be consulted on the detail and potential consequences of a minimum price that should address problem prices without affecting the rights of responsible drinkers or damaging responsible business."

Kervin Julien, Director of homeless charity Anesis

"The government really needs to be looking at the accessibility of alcohol, reducing the amount of shops that are able to sell it, what times they're able to sell it at. They need to be looking at why are people binge drinking, why are people actually looking to get out of their faces from morning till night?

"A lot more needs to be spent on the infrastructure in our society that gives people, individuals with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence in their abilities to achieve much, something to do in their time."

Mehboob Khan, chairman of the Local Government Association's safer and stronger communities board

"The issues in town and city centres vary across the country and national gestures like minimum pricing and banning multi-buy discounts will only go so far.

"Councils should have the ability to tackle problem drinking through licensing powers and their new public health role. This means the ability to say 'no' to a new late night club on a street which is already saturated with them."

C&C Group, the makers of Magners cider and Tennent's lager

"We take our responsibilities as a brewer and cider-maker seriously.

"In principle, we support the government's proposals to introduce minimum pricing measures for alcohol so long as it is introduced as one of a range of measures aimed at tackling this issue; and these measures are implemented fairly and proportionately."

Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, of the Association of Chief Police Officers

"Week in, week out, in town centres across the country, the police have to deal with the consequences of cheap alcohol and irresponsible drinking.

"The growing trend for 'pre-loading' means that young people are often drunk before they even enter a bar.

"By the time they hit the streets at closing they are more likely to get involved in crime and disorder or injure themselves or others."

Andrew Cowan, country director of Diageo GB, whose brands include Smirnoff and Guinness

"Diageo has consistently supported this government and its predecessors to tackle alcohol misuse and believes measures such as stricter law enforcement in addressing drunk and disorderly behaviour will work.

"However, the intended introduction of pricing intervention is misguided and appears to run counter to the responsibility deal set out by this government."

Gavin Partington, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association

"This is actually a measure that will punish the poorest in our society - the top 10% won't be affected at all.

"It is grossly unfair, and a PR stunt designed to distract from the real issue, which is a problem affecting a minority and we rightly need a set of policies - price alone is not going to address it."

Welsh government spokeswoman

"The Welsh government has consistently said that we would like to see a minimum price per unit of alcohol introduced in Wales.

"The power to do this currently lies with the UK government, but we would welcome any move towards making minimum pricing on alcohol a reality.

"We have also requested power to legislate on alcohol licensing on a number of occasions and these requests have been repeatedly rejected by the UK government."

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