It was announced today that the Government won’t be bringing in a minimum unit price for alcohol. Home Office minister Jeremy Browne said in a statement to Commons that it would instead ban sales of alcohol below duty plus vat.
Following no small amount of campaigning on the issue, The Scotch Whisky Association praised the move. Chief executive Gavin Hewitt commented: ‘We are pleased that the UK Government is not pushing ahead with minimum unit pricing of alcohol. It is right to focus on reducing alcohol misuse through legal and more effective measures, including a ban on below cost sales based on tax in England and Wales – a measure we have been calling for – and working in partnership with the industry.’
Diageo Great Britain’s country director, Andrew Cowan, said: ‘Our position remains clear that the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol would not work. It would fail to deter problem drinkers and it would unfairly punish responsible drinkers. As such we welcome the Government’s decision not to proceed with this ineffective policy.’
The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group didn’t agree. ‘Our research shows that the previously proposed 45 pence minimum unit price would be likely to achieve much greater reductions in the health and social problems associated with harmful drinking,’ said the group’s director, Professor Petra Meier. A statement from the group added that the proposed ban would only affect 1.3% of all units of alcohol sold.