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.
Minimum alcohol price 'could be higher than 40p per unit'. The Daily Telegraph, March 23 2012
At last, Cameron calls time on curse of cheap booze with minimum price per unit. Daily Mail, March 23 2012
Minimum alcohol price planned for England and Wales. BBC News, March 23 2012
Coalition to set minimum alcohol price. The Guardian, March 23 2012
Minimum price for alcohol to be set. The Daily Telegraph, March 23 2012
Alcohol minimum price plan set out. Channel 4 News, March 23 2012
Minimum Price For Alcohol To Curb Bingeing. Sky News, March 23 2012