The Health Secretary Andy Burnham has this week indicated support for minimum pricing from the government, according to a report from the Telegraph. Burnham commented in an interview:
"We need to balance the rights of people who drink responsibly with those who buy ludicrously cheap booze and go out and harm themselves and others.
“The NHS Confederation and Royal College of Physicians expressed their views very clearly over Christmas – I can’t sit here and read reports like that and say it is all fine.
“The mood has changed and there is rising public concern – we need to respond to that and move on the debate…There is no shortage of research that shows the link with price and people drinking harmful levels of alcohol – there is no debate about that.”
The apparent shift in policy follows the recent NHS Confederation report and Health Select Committee's alcohol report (chapters here), though the Business Minister Lord Mandelson is said to be against the move. Gordon Brown had initially opposed calls for minimum pricing from the Chief Medical Officer last year, although Labour had insisted they had not ruled it out and would consider further evidence.
Minimum pricing has however been unpopular with the industry and in the public domain, though the Health Select Committee reported 'There is a myth widely propagated by parts of the drinks industry and politicians that a rise in prices would unfairly affect the majority of moderate drinkers.'
The Tories propose to ban below-cost sales and raise tax on certain drinks in addition to the controversial proposals to scrap units, also announced this week in a policy green paper .Following the high profile of the release of the Health Select Committee's report last week, here are some of the interesting news and media responses we've come across.
Comment and investigative reports
- Mark Easton (BBC home editor) 'The myths of boozed up Britain'
- 'Save the NHS from alcohol abuse', Guardian comment
- The Economist 'Plastered for a pound'
- 'Drinks producers slam minimum price proposals'
- 'BBPA: minimum price would be ineffective'
- The Drinkware trust's response
- 'ALMR: alcohol report is welcome boost for pubs'
- BBC 'MPs call for clampdown on alcohol misuse'
- Daily Mail 'Binge drinkers prop up alcohol industry: Sales 'would fall by 40%' if we all drank responsibly
- The Mirror 'Alcohol policies have failed - MPs'
- The Telegraph 'Rise prices alcohol prices to save lives, MPs argue'
- The Guardian 'Report condemns government response to alcoholism and binge drinking'