Pressure is increasing on the government to set minimum prices for alcohol in England, following the publication of Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson’s annual report.
This follows similar proposals made by the Scottish Government earlier this month.
According to Sir Liam: “Cheap alcohol is killing us like never before”. He hopes that setting a minimum price for alcohol could lead to over 3000 fewer alcohol related deaths and cut hospital admissions by 100,000 every year. 2007 saw 8724 alcohol related deaths in the UK alone.
If ministers at Westminster pass this proposal a minimum price of 50p could be set per unit of alcohol. This would make it illegal to sell a standard bottle of wine for less than £4.50. The price of an average six-pack of lager would increase to £6.00; almost triple the current supermarket price.
However, it is understood that Sir Liam’s proposal is likely to be rejected after it was met with strong opposition from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He is concerned over the effect minimum price setting will have on “responsible drinkers”.
Scotland’s own plans were dealt a blow over the weekend after the Scottish Whisky Association voiced concerns over the legality of setting minimum alcohol prices.
Nevertheless the Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon insists that this move is still under consideration in both Scotland and England:
“Alcohol misuse is a major problem north and south of the Border, and we welcome reports that the UK government are taking the first steps in following key aspects of the Scottish Government’s proposals. As in the ban on smoking in public places, it is clear Scotland is again ahead of the game”.