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The Government is bringing in minimum price alcohol

The Government announced today that the minimum price for alcohol is to bet set at 45p a unit. Why? Alcohol is being sold so cheaply in shops that it is cheaper than water. A month ago some teenagers in the queue behind me in ASDA were loading up with alcohol. A four pack of ASDA larger cost 88p, that is 22p a can , a bottle of ASDA value vodka just £5. A teenage girl can get totally drunk for 68p at these type of prices. Supermarkets sell alcohol below cost price because it draws people into the shop. The Government plans to stop this along with ‘special deals’ such as 2 for 1 deals which have been shown to increase drinking.

A 45p/unit lower limit will only lead to a 3.3%  reduction in total alcohol sales but it is thought but it will particularly hit heavy drinkers and the young who tend to buy cheap alcohol for its effect rather than taste. More than 2/3rds of teenager apparently ‘pre-load’ on cheap alcohol before going out.

The arguments for and against minimum price alcohol were persuasively put forward by two MPs below

 AGAINST

Philip Davies MP

The very principle of minimum pricing goes against all my beliefs as a libertarian and believer in individual freedom and responsibility. Undoubtedly, there are a small percentage of society who suffer from alcohol-related problems including binge drinking and anti-social behaviour. However, to punish the vast majority of responsible drinkers for the actions of a troublesome few by hiking up alcohol prices across the board is at worst completely unfair and at best, downright perverse ………

Finally, I worry where this will end. Will the Government suggest later down the line that we should introduce minimum pricing of cream cakes, pizzas, chocolate, fish and chips or curry, because they are all bad for us if eaten to excess? This is a slippery slope, and certainly not one that I am prepared to support.

 FOR

Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP

Most people will know someone whose life has been ruined through being unable to control their drinking. If they were the only one to suffer then this might be a matter of personal choice and responsibility.

The fact is that problem drinking leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. Around half of violent crime including homicide and domestic violence is attributable to or aggravated by alcohol and over 700,000 children live with an alcoholic parent. Our casualty departments are overflowing and over a million people are admitted to hospital annually as a result.

If the problem is serious enough – and a conservative estimate puts the cost to our economy and to individuals at around £20billion per year – then Government has a duty to do something more than hand wringing. The costs are hard to quantify as official figures don’t account for disasters like the lifetime care of a child born with foetal alcohol syndrome or the fallout from a fatal crash caused by a drunk driver.

If problem drinking just affected the person drinking I would probably share Philip’s libertarian view. But it does not…. As one former drinker put it , if you can’t afford 45p per unit it is probably a sign you are drinking too much.

Find the full debate at http://www.cps.org.uk/get-involved/debate/q/ref-6/

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