Call for clampdown on alcohol misuse8th January 2010
A powerful committee of MPs has called for a major overhaul of the government’s policy to combat excessive drinking.
The Health Select Committee wants to see minimum pricing, a rise in duty on spirits and white cider and stricter advertising regulation.
In a highly-critical report it said ministers were paying more attention to the views of the drinks industry rather than the concerns of health experts.
Figures suggest that alcohol abuse in England and Wales kills 40,000 people a year with an annual cost to the economy £55bn but the select committee believes that a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol would save 3,000 deaths a year.
The minimum pricing approach has, however, already been rejected by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Tories, despite being backed by the Scottish executive and England’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson.
Health Select Committee chair and Labour MP Kevin Barron said even a small reduction in the number of people misusing alcohol could save the NHS millions of pounds.
“What is required is fundamental culture change,” he said.
The British Medical Association welcomed the report and said the drinks industry and supermarkets exerted too much power over government alcohol policies while the British Liver Trust said the report was a “damning indictment” of the way successive governments had tackled alcohol health harm.
However, the Portman Group - which represents the drinks industry - said minimum pricing would affect responsible drinkers and that irresponsible drinkers should be targeted through better education and effective law enforcement.
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Title: Call for clampdown on alcohol misuse
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 13685
Date Added: 8th Jan 2010