PM Refuses to Commit to Minimum Pricing on Alcohol

minimum pricing on alcohol

After pledging to stop cheap alcohol being sold in supermarkets, Prime Minister David Cameron has stopped short of endorsing minimum pricing.
Cameron has said he is waiting for the final results of an examination of alcohol policy and pricing before he will throw his weight behind any sort of minimum pricing. This is despite Cameron having said, “There is a problem with deeply discounted alcohol in supermarkets and other stores and I am absolutely determined that we will deal with this.”

"We published proposals, we are looking at the consultation and the results to those proposals, but be in no doubt, we've got to deal with the problem of having 20p or 25p cans of lager available in supermarkets. It's got to change."

The hesitation may have been caused by numerous cabinet ministers including the home secretary expressing doubts as to the effectiveness of a 45p base price for alcohol. Labour Leader Ed Miliband also derided the effectiveness of minimum pricing.

Some Tories have labelled minimum pricing as a “blunderbuss” solution and say they believe the new strategy will put unnecessary pressure on low income drinkers without actually solving anything.

In response to these accusations, MPs and the British Medical Association have come out in defence of the planned minimum price. During a BBC Radio 4 interview former GP from the health select committee and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston said, "I feel devastated, We know that whenever alcohol's too cheap, people die.”

"If the chancellor wants a message from me, it's that we are already paying a huge amount to clean up the costs of this ... This policy is about getting rid of the alcohol that's being retailed around 22p a unit, that's the alcohol that's killing people and causing carnage."

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association added that minimum pricing was a once in a lifetime opportunity to save lives and encouraged the PM to be brave.

Supporters say that minimum pricing will help reduce the many costs of alcohol. These include medical costs for alcohol related diseases, injuries, fighting and disorderly conduct and reduce the amount of time police have to spend dealing with people who are intoxicated.

Current research backs many of these claims. It suggests a 45p minimum price would reduce drinking by 4.3% which could save as many as 2,000 lives in the next ten years.

As of yet, Cameron has specifically stated whether he will support the minimum pricing but many supporters say they are baffled by his sudden change of heart.

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