Ipswich shops asked to ban super-strength beer and cider

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Media captionLast year in Suffolk, 13,000 people ended up in hospital because of problems with alcohol

Shopkeepers in Ipswich are being asked to stop selling beer and cider with an alcohol volume above 6.5%.

Supermarkets Tesco and Co-Op have already agreed to Suffolk Police's request to change their licence to prevent sales of the drink.

In a town centre off-licence, a 500ml can of 9% lager costs £1.30 and a 7.5% can of cider costs 99p.

Area commander Andrew Mason said it was available for as little as 69p, which he described as "pocket money".

McColl newsagents and some of the independent retailers among Ipswich's 130 off licences have also agreed to stop selling the drinks.

'Positive step'

The East of England Co-op says it is going to remove the super-strength beer and cider from all of its 54 stores in Suffolk.

Roger Grosvenor, group general manager, said the drinks such as Tennent's Super and Carlsberg Special Brew were there to get people "drunk quick".

"It's not pleasant having to run the gauntlet past people that are intoxicated," he said. "It's our intention to try and stop this."

Mr Mason said the scheme was the first of its kind in the country.

He said: "We're going to visit the premises and ask them to make a voluntary variation to their licence, which has a licence condition that they can't sell it - which makes it future proof."

Andrew Cleveland, operations manager for drug and alcohol charity Norcas, welcomed the initiative.

"It's a positive step in the way that it will target a specific area," he said.

"But what really has to happen is not just this as one intervention, we need to make sure there is other support there as well."

Carlsberg UK said the majority of its consumers drink responsibly but a "small minority" do not.

"We believe the effective solution to this is about education and information as opposed to restricting choice of one particular type of alcohol," a spokesperson said.

"For this reason we are significant contributors to the Drinkaware Trust, an independent UK alcohol awareness charity, who provide education on alcohol.

"We also ensure all of our products clearly display the number of units and that consumer information is displayed to allow consumers to make an informed choice."

The campaign is being backed by Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.

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