Cameron expresses support for minimum alcohol price
15 February 2012
by Luke Thomas
David Cameron has indicated that he will push for minimum pricing on alcohol in an attempt to tackle Britain’s binge-drinking culture, which he has described as a “scandal”.
His comments – which described a “rising tide of unacceptable behaviour” – have been made as the government prepares a new strategy for dealing with the country’s drinking problem.
"This isn't just about more rules and regulation,” stated Cameron. “It's about responsibility and a sense of respect for others. This is an area where the drinks industry, supermarkets, pubs and clubs need to work with government so that responsible drinking becomes a reality and not just a slogan.”
From the 6th of April onwards, alcohol will no longer be legal to sell below cost, meaning that the price cannot be lower than the tax to be paid on it. This does not, however, rule out stricter measures being taken in future to curb the issue of alcohol overconsumption, which is estimated to cost the NHS £2.7bn yearly.
Cameron made mention of the “drunk tanks” of the United States as well as the positioning of police officers in A&E departments, referring to a variety of possible tactics that could potentially be used in future.
Local authorities have also considered a variety of new measures, with a proposal for a minimal price of 50p per unit of alcohol currently being floated in Merseyside.
However, some have challenged the ideas at hand, with suggestions that such legislation may be in contravention of EU free trade laws – an issue that Scotland is already seeking confirmation on.
Others have criticised the idea as demonising all drinkers and punishing them for the untoward actions of a minority. A fear expressed by the British Beer and Pub Association was that the government would put its plans into action “through higher taxation, which would be hugely damaging to pubgoers, community pubs and brewers, costing thousands of vital jobs”.