Minimum pricing only first step to tackle alcohol misuse, says Swanswell

26 November 2012

Plans to introduce minimum pricing in England and Wales are being welcomed by Swanswell but it believes the step should be one of many to tackle alcohol misuse.

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug misuse, is responding to news today that the Prime Minister is set to publish the Government’s alcohol consultation on Wednesday.

It’s expected that David Cameron will recommend prices should rise to reduce sales of cheap spirits and super-strength lager and cider, which are often linked to anti-social behaviour and violence.

Three potential ‘floor prices’ are being considered by Downing Street – 40p, 45p and 50p per unit of alcohol. Similar plans in Scotland have been put on hold following a court challenge from the drinks industry.

It would mean the price of a £2.99 bottle of red wine containing 9.4 units would increase to £3.76 and an 87p can of strong lager would almost double to at least £1.60 (reports The Independent).

However, Swanswell believes minimum pricing is only part of the solution for tackling alcohol misuse.             

Other aspects of the marketing mix should be investigated alongside price including promotion, product and place, in addition to better alcohol education and clearer information.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We welcome another serious attempt from the government to tackle alcohol misuse.

However, minimum pricing alone won’t solve the problem. It’s important to consider other aspects alongside price such as where alcohol is placed on sale, promotional offers and the product itself.

Most importantly, we need better education and clearer information – there are so many mixed messages out there about alcohol, which makes it difficult for people to make informed decisions about their own drinking.

In addition, we need increased investment in treatment services such as Swanswell. At a time of government cuts, it’s important to recognise the need for this support, which has the potential to save billions of pounds for the NHS.

Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any individual, government or organisation can do on their own – we all have a part to play.’

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