PM backs 'local' booze minimum pricing

Minimum pricing would only affect problem drinkers, campaigners say
Minimum pricing would only affect problem drinkers, campaigners say

By staff

David Cameron has indicated his support for local bans on cheap alcohol but refused to implement a national level policy, according to a report.

The prime minister showed signs of movement where he had previously refused to acknowledge the benefits of introducing minimum pricing per unit on alcohol.

He said "responsible drinkers" would be hit by the introduction of a 50p per unit lower limit after chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson recommended the step in March 2009.

Now ten council chiefs in the north-west region are considering introducing a by-law to this effect the prime minister suggested he was not automatically opposed to it.

"I think the idea of the councils coming together on this is a good one and we will certainly look at it very sympathetically," Mr Cameron told the Manchester Evening News newspaper.

"I think if what you're trying to do is stop supermarkets from selling 20 tins of Stella for a fiver that's what we've got to go after.

"Where I want to try and help is ending the deep discounting on alcohol.

"People going and 'pre-loading', having bought from a supermarket where they were attracted by a price designed to bring them into the store."

Campaigners for minimum pricing have argued moderate drinkers would see minimal increases in how much they pay for alcohol, but problem drinkers would find themselves priced out of maintaining their drinking spending habits.

A Commons health committee report published in January this year argued ministers were too close to the drinks industry. It called for the introduction of minimum pricing, improved regulation on alcohol advertising and a mandatory labelling scheme.

Alcohol misuse costs English taxpayers £20 billion each year, according to pressure group Alcohol Concern.


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