The drinks debate: Should we be made to pay more?

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Special offers on alcoholic drinks at a supermarket
Special offers on alcoholic drinks at a supermarket Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Today the government proposed a 45p per alcohol unit price as the minimum shops can sell. It's fired off a long overdue debate. Below are key questions posed by the industry today:

Is minimum unit pricing ("MUP") actually legal under EU competition law?

Will MUP actually reduce consumption by the minority of irresponsible drinkers in our society? Research by WDR suggests it will not.

Will retailers keep the extra revenue? If so, what will this revenue be used for?

What will the unintended consequences of a minimum pricing regime be?

Will we see a return of the booze cruise and white vans heading off to Calais?

Who is going to police the MUP regime? There are thousands of outlets selling alcohol in England & Wales, and thousands of products, each with their own combination of ABV (alcoholic strength) and pack size.

What help will there be for small retailers who do not have sophisticated epos systems?Will there be a central database set up that contains every SKU sold in the off trade, on trade or online, together with its minimum price?

Are meal deals (eg dine in for 2 for £10) being specifically excluded, as suggested by Damian Green? What about other deals that combine food and alcohol?

What evidence is there that MUP will work as intended? The Government and health lobby are all relying on academic modelling rather than hard evidence. The Canadian liquor market is very different to the UK.

How reliable are the alcohol-related hospital admissions figures? Recent analysis has cast major doubts on the headline figures that are bandied about (eg 1 million alcohol-related admissions pa).

What has caused the recent decline in both total volumes of alcohol consumed and average consumption per capita?

Will the criminal underworld focus much more on illicit alcohol manufacture and distribution?Will a 45p minimum price actually make much impact on prices?

Will the Government look at some of the deep-rooted behaviours in British society that encourage us to drink when we are happy, sad, celebrating or mourning?

Will TV shows be discouraged from featuring alcohol as a central plot line? This might be difficult at the Rovers Return or the Queen Victoria.