Call on a new strategy for alcohol consumption

Associations and charities are calling on the Government to implement a new alcohol strategy to minimise the harm on the most vulnerable in society.

“Individuals, families and communities are suffering harms that could be reversed by policies like a minimum unit price”, says professor Sir Ian Gilmore from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

More than 500.000 people have been hospitalised for drug or alcohol consumption in the past three years, according to the health statistics company Dr Foster.

Since launching the e-petition in March 2013, British Medical Association (BMA) has repeatedly called on the government to introduce minimum unit pricing as evidence shows that it helps.

“The launch of minimum unit pricing in Canada has already seen significant results with a 10 % increase in the cost of the cheapest drinks leading to a 32 % reduction in wholly alcohol related deaths”, BMA’s spokeperson says.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) emphasised that minimum pricing would not increase the price of alcohol sold in pubs or the price of most off licence alcohol.

“It seeks to prevent the sale of the damagingly cheap alcohol which is targeted by harmful and binge drinkers”, RCP’s spokeperson says. “A minimum price of 45p per unit would mean only that a standard sized bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £12.60 and a 10-unit bottle of wine for less than £4.50.”

Eric Appleby, the Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, the national charity working on these issues said that the UK Government shouldn’t ignore the crisis caused by alcohol.

“From campaigners, to academics to public health workers and the public itself there is a huge will and desire to make a change to our society’s relationship with alcohol”, Appleby said.

However, alcohol importers suggest that more alcohol is being purchased for consumption at home where there are not the social or licensing restrictions.

“There are many consumers out there who drink in moderation and that raising the price of lower priced products may be seen as unfairly penalising a large group of responsible consumers, rather than tackling other fundamental issues relating to alcohol consumption”, said Bill Oddy, the Managing director of the UK importer Drinks Company Ltd.

In March 2013, the Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the government would look into proposals and consultations on alcohol strategy, and plan to put a minimum price on a drink. However, nothing has been implemented yet.