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Minimum pricing for alcohol urged

15th December 2011

Experts have stepped up the pressure for minimum pricing levels to be set for alcohol in the UK in a bid to prevent rising deaths from diseases related to drinking.

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A group of 19 leading doctors and academics have written to the Daily Telegraph pointing to Scottish plans for minimum pricing as a “simple and effective” way to tackle alcohol-related deaths.

The group say alcohol was linked to 13,000 new cases of cancer a year and associated with one in four deaths of people in the 15-to-24 age group.

Among the signatories to the letter were the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing.

It said: “We need to narrow the price gap between alcohol bought in bars and restaurants with alcohol bought in supermarkets and off-licences, to make bulk discounts and pocket-money prices a thing of the past. We urgently need to raise the price of cheap drink.”

A ban on the sale of alcohol for less than cost price will be introduced in England and Wales in April, while in November the Scottish government sought to bring in legislation which will set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

The Department for Health is to launch its new alcohol strategy early next year, though it is understood the government has been reluctant to consider a minimum price per unit because it would not be legal in terms of the EU competition regulations.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said alcohol had been too cheap for too long.

 

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