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News - 4 October 2009

Minimum pricing won't stop alcohol abuse

Minimum alcohol pricing will penalise the majority of customers who are responsible drinkers by forcing up prices and reducing choice, but will not tackle problem drinkers.

Reacting to the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP’s) suggestion, published last Tuesday, to introduce a minimum alcohol price, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it was wrong to assume that only problem drinkers buy value products. Introducing minimum pricing would simply force up the price for the majority of people who buy alcohol as part of their weekly shop and consume it perfectly responsibly with their family and friends.

Rather than focusing on price, changing the culture around alcohol is a much more effective way of tackling the problem. Retailers are working closely with the Department of Health to encourage responsible alcohol consumption and already provide on-pack unit labelling.

Andrew Opie, BRC Food Director, said, “It’s wrong to assume that only problem drinkers buy value goods. Minimum pricing simply penalises ordinary shoppers, such as families looking for value, who buy alcohol as part of their weekly shop and consume it responsibly with their family and friends. Without a comprehensive strategy excessive drinkers will just find the money to buy more expensive alcohol without changing their behaviour.

“The price of alcohol is not the issue – it’s the person consuming it. Retailers are working closely with the Department of Health to promote responsible alcohol consumption and already provide on-pack unit labelling to help customers make more informed choices.

“The most effective of way of tackling problem drinkers is not using price, but changing the culture around alcohol.”

Brighton & Hove City Council has launched a campaign to educate under age and binge drinkers about the dangers of irresponsible and excessive drinking. Posters with hard hitting images aim to shock people into a realisation that they could be in danger.


Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
Anti-social behaviour
British Retail Consortium
Opie, Andrew


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