Public health bosses tell Government ‘you are wrong’ on minimum unit pricing of alcohol

  • Post category:World News

ALL 12 directors of public health in the North-East have signed an open letter criticising the Government’s decision not to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol.

From The Northern Echo

Put together with the Government’s recent choice not to bring in standardised plain packaging on cigarettes, the public health directors described the delay in introducing minimum unit pricing as “a blow to public health”.

It follows hard on the heels of similar criticism from the three North-East police and crime commissioners, the North-East’s alcohol and tobacco control agencies and the region’s clinical commissioning groups.

Despite the Government’s decision last month that a minimum unit price will not be introduced “any time soon”, the region’s public health bosses said evidence in support of this policy is getting stronger.

Citing the example of Canada, the directors said a recent ten per cent increase in minimum price had resulted in a 32 per cent fall in alcohol-related deaths.

In contrast, the directors predicted that the below cost price ban introduced by the Government will be “50 times less effective” than minimum pricing “and it will still be possible for our children to get their hands on a two litre bottle of strong cider for  £1.43.”

The directors add: “We know it targets those people most in need – heavy drinkers and children who seek out strong, cheap alcohol while not affecting the price of a pint or glass of wine in a pub.”

The directors said that they welcomed Public Health England’s commitment to look again at the evidence “because we believe it can only come to one conclusion”.

In response the Home Office reissued the statement made on July 17 by the Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne.

In the statement Mr Browne said: “We do not yet have enough concrete evidence that its introduction would be effective in reducing harms associated with problem drinking – this is a crucial point – without penalising people who drink responsibly.

“We will tackle the most egregious examples of cheap alcohol by banning sales of alcohol below the level of alcohol duty plus value-added tax. It will no longer be legal to sell a can of ordinary-strength lager for less than about 40p.”