Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Plans Alcohol Minimum Pricing; 'We Have to Tackle Binge Drinking'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PM Plans Alcohol Minimum Pricing; 'We Have to Tackle Binge Drinking'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Phillips

THE Government plans to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol and ban the sale of multi-buy discount deals, the Prime Minister will say today. David Cameron said he was making "no excuses" for clamping down on England's drinking problem, although he admitted minimum pricing would not be popular with everyone.

The move will undoubtedly face opposition from the drinks industry, with some firms describing it previously as a "regressive measure".

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has also been against tighter regulation of the sector and last year described minimum pricing as an "absurd" tool for tackling drink abuse.

The new Alcohol Strategy is intended to "turn the tide" against irresponsible drinking, which costs the UK an estimated pounds 21bn a year. It sets out plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol, possibly 40p, bans the sale of multi-buy discount deals and introduces a "zero tolerance" approach to drunken behaviour in A&E departments.

It also suggests introducing a late-night levy to get pubs and clubs to help pay for policing and improved powers to stop serving alcohol to drunks.

The Government hopes minimum pricing will spell the end of cheap white ciders, spirits and super-strength lagers.

It also believes it could tackle "pre-loading" - when people drink cheap alcohol at home before heading to a pub or nightclub. Under the plans, buy-one-get-one-free deals could be banned, but half-price deals could stay.

Mr Cameron said: "Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country.

"The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities.

"My message is simple. We can't go on like this. We have to tackle the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking. And we have to do it now."

Today's announcement from Downing Street will come just after Mr Lansley made his own announcement on alcohol. …

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