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Bye-bye bargain booze: Is paying more a good measure?

Supermarkets will be affected by the 45p per unit rule imposed by the government. Photo: ITV News

I saw some people out for a drink last night. Even in the freezing temperatures I found groups of men and women on the street, drinking the very strongest cheapest alcohol they could get.

The outreach worker I was with, Mike Nicholas, spoke with some of them. For him and his team, this is all very familiar - and they blame bargain booze. He told me:

We are now seeing more people on the streets dying from strong cheap booze than from crack and heroin

Today we expect the government to unveil its plan for a minimum alcohol price. The figure is likely to be 45p a unit.

It will affect those very strong ciders and lagers but the industry is warning at it will also hit responsible consumers. It would inflate the costs of wines and spirits - especially the supermarket basic ranges. Scotland already has similar arrangements.

Just as people prepare for Christmas - when the drinks shelf gets its annual update in many homes - this is timing that will create a flashpoint.

Whatever the outcome, this is a debate we must have.

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