Home Office proposes 45p-per-unit minimum on alcohol

sales of boozeAlcohol addiction is one that affects many people in Britain, and it is thought by many that part of the reason for this widespread problem is the ready availability of the drink.

Now, as part of an effort to curb the damage that excessive alcohol consumption can exert on the UK, the Home Office has stated that a minimum unit price of 45p per unit should be set.

Doing so will reduce the amount currently spent on alcoholic drinks (£42 billion in England and Wales) by around three per cent, but at the same time it could also work to tackle alcohol-related crime and reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths.

Not only are there plans to introduce a minimum-per-unit pricing to make alcoholic drinks less affordable and readily available, but home secretary Theresa May has also stated that she wants to ban a number of multi-buy offers such as the BOGOF (buy one, get one free) deals.

It is key to note that it's not pubs, clubs and eateries that these new regulations are aimed at by rather it is about cutting down on the accessibility of alcohol in supermarkets and off-licence stores. The targeted demographic appears to be binge drinkers who buy alcohol in vast quantities in order to "pre-load" before a night out. Figures show that multi-buy offers in particular have increased alcohol sales by around 20 per cent in recent years.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Ms May said: "We are consulting on these measures because too many of our high streets and town centres have become no-go areas on a Friday and Saturday night. Just under half of all violent crimes involve alcohol and a great deal of antisocial behaviour is alcohol-fuelled." She also noted that in 211 alone there were almost one million alcohol-related violent crimes and 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions.

This is not the first time that the "pre-loading" or "pre-drinking" phenomenon, whereby consumers drink large amounts of alcohol at home before heading to a bar or club, has come to public attention. Earlier this month, Addiction Switzerland published a report which suggested that there is a strong link between pre-drinking and an increased risk of developing alcohol addiction.

Researcher Florian Labhart noted: "Considering that pre-drinking leads people to consume nearly twice the normal amount of alcohol on a given night, its prevalence should not be underestimated from a public-health perspective."

Part of the problem is the fact that the more locations you drink in, the harder it becomes to recall how much you've had and of what. As such, you ended up drinking perhaps more alcohol than you would have intended, putting you at greater risk for alcohol addiction and other related health problems.

While some have welcomed the move from the Home Office, not everyone believes it will have the desired effect. A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium told The Times: "Most major retailers believe that minimum pricing and controls on promotions are unfair to most customers, because they simply penalise the vast majority of personally responsible drinkers while doing nothing to tackle the roots of irresponsible drinking."

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