A minimum price per unit of alcohol will be introduced in England and Wales alongside plans to ban the sale of multi-buy discount deals, the Home Secretary has told the Commons.
The Government's Alcohol Strategy is intended to "turn the tide" against irresponsible drinking, which costs the UK an estimated £21billion a year.
The main elements of the Government strategy are:
- Plans for a minimum unit price, possibly 40p, stop multi-buy discount deals and introduces a "zero tolerance" approach to drunken behaviour in A&E departments.
- It also suggests a late-night levy to get pubs and clubs to help pay for policing and improved powers to stop serving alcohol to drunks.
- Under the plans, buy-one-get-one-free deals could be banned but half-price deals could stay.
The Government's figures of what the new rules will cost drinkers (based on independent research from Sheffield University):
- Moderate Drinkers (14 units a week): £6 a year
- Heavy Drinker (35 units): £39 a year
- Very Heavy Drinker (above 35 units): £135
The Home Secretary, Theresa May has said that moderate drinkers have 'nothing to fear' from the new rules:
Sam Bowman, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute believes a minimum price per unit for alcohol is not needed to tackle alcohol consumption in Britain:
Minimum alcohol pricing is intensely regressive. It only hurts poor and frugal drinkers, leaving drinkers of expensive wines and other drinks untouched. Minimum alcohol pricing is anti-fun Victorian paternalism, and the government is engaged in a misguided moral crusade against drinking.
In fact, there is no significant drinking problem in Britain. We drink less than we did ten years ago and less than we did one hundred years ago. Britons drink less per person than the French, Germans, Spanish, Belgians and Czechs.
Gavin Partington of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has said that the unit pricing will not tackle 'problem drinkers.'
The Alcohol Strategy has its opponents, but the Government has moved to counter the critics with a series of "myth busters". Read them here.