The consultation states the government believes alcohol duties should be related to the alcoholic strength of drinks and that the 'intention is to target ‘white’ ciders, and to avoid any impacts on traditional cider makers'. An end to white ciders has long been called for by public health groups and homeless charities citing the adverse impacts of such products on vulnerable groups.
Ahead of the government's spring Budget this week, both 'sides' campaigning for changes in alcohol duty have been seeing some coverage of their calls. The Alcohol Health Alliance and other health groups have been calling for a raise in duties relating to cheap white cider, which were implicated in the recent death of a 16 year old girl - The Mirror.
Public health bodies are calling on the Chancellor to use taxation as a lever to address the cheapest alcohol products including 'white ciders' ahead of the spring budget next month, though are competing with opposing calls from alcohol industry bodies. Both taxation and a minimum unit pricing (MUP) featured in a commons debate on alcohol harms on Thursday 2nd February.
The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) have released a call [pdf] making four recommendations for the government including the reinstatement of the alcohol duty escalator, MUP and to seek a more health adequate duty system based on strength for all products in future trade agreements. Balance, the regional alcohol group for the North East, are also calling on the Chancellor to raise duty on high strength white ciders, such as Frosty Jack’s and White Ace, which have a lower duty per unit than any other alcohol product. They say a targeted rise in duty would leave 80 percent of cider sales unaffected and that 66% of the public would support a duty increase, also highlighting a recent Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) report stating white cider products - sold for as little as 16p per unit of alcohol - are predominantly drunk by dependent and underage drinkers.
Sections of the alcohol industry have prolonged the fight against Scotland's plans for minimum alcohol pricing (MUP). The Scotch Whisky Association said it had a "strong view that minimum pricing is incompatible with EU law" and would appeal, but Health Secretary Shona Robison said the decision was "deeply disappointing". BBC news and APUK analysis.
At least half of the alcohol sold in Scotland is below the sought 50 pence MUP, a survey suggests. More than two-thirds (69%) of the spirits currently sold fall below the 50p per unit threshold, according to analysts Nielsen - BBC news
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) have confirmed they will appeal the recent decision by the Scottish Courts that minimum unit pricing (MUP) was legal and proportionate. The appeal was announced on the final day of the deadline, ignoring calls from health groups and the Scottish Government for the industry to accept the decision.
The latest announcement brings renewed uncertainty over when MUP will be implemented, but arguably less so as to whether it eventually will be. A common interpretation amongst MUP supporters is all the opposing arguments have been addressed and as such the further appeal simply amounts to 'delaying tactics'. The Scottish Government first passed legislation to implement MUP in 2012 but have been forced through various legal hurdles primarily as a result of opposition claims that it contravened EU law. However the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled it was for the Scottish Inner House of the Court of Session to decide on MUP who decided it was proportionate and justifiable on health grounds.
Public health groups and other supporters of minimum unit pricing (MUP) recieved welcome news last week as the Scottish Courts decided the measure could be justified under EU law.
Scotland had first passed legislation to implement MUP in 2012 but have been facing ongoing legal hurdles as a result of action led by sections of the alcohol industry. In January this year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled it was for the Scottish Inner House of the Court of Session to decide on MUP, but could only agree it if 'proportionality' could be proved.
Welsh Government attempts to set a minimum 50p per unit (MUP) have been blocked by Westminster in a move criticised by Doctors - BBC News. MPs refused to devolve pricing powers to the Welsh Government who would seek to stop alcohol being sold "cheaper than water".
The growing number of older people being treated for alcohol dependence is 'all over us like a rash', according to an article in The Huffington Post. The number of people in England aged over 60 being treated for alcohol dependence rose 38% between 2009/10 to 2013/14 as 'the ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation continue with hedonistic lifestyles into their later years'.