Swanswell welcomes alcohol plans but calls for wider measures

28 November 2012

Swanswell’s welcoming government plans to set a minimum price for alcohol and ban ‘buy one, get one free’ deals on beer, wines and spirits but it says wider measures are needed to make a difference.

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug misuse, is responding to today’s launch of a 10-week consultation into charging at least 45 pence per unit and ending supermarket multi-buy offers on alcohol.

The proposals would raise the price for the average can of beer or cider to £1.12 and reduce the consumption of alcohol by 4.3%, according to government research (reports BBC News). However, plans have attracted much reaction from health services, the drinks industry and others.

Swanswell believes minimum pricing and banning multi-buy offers is only a small part of the solution for tackling alcohol misuse. Other elements such as the place alcohol is sold and the product itself should be considered alongside other measures too.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We welcome today’s proposal as a serious attempt to address alcohol misuse but Swanswell believes it’s only the start of what needs to be done.

The underpinning research behind this from the University of Sheffield is very interesting and uses lots of statistical  information but human behaviour isn’t based on statistics, so it would be very difficult to see how this will translate across.

The research is also based on high risk drinkers who are unlikely to change their drinking behaviour because of the price of alcohol.

But what it may do is discourage those who are not yet drinking at high or harmful levels from buying more than they otherwise would, particularly those who are buying very cheap high strength lagers and ciders, which are the most difficult to wean people off.

However, price and promotion are only two aspects that need to be investigated – the product itself and where it is placed on sale should also be considered, alongside the need for clearer information to un-muddle the mixed messages out there around alcohol.

Tie that in with better alcohol education and more open conversations at home about our attitudes to drinking, and we’ll start to see a positive shift in society’s view of alcohol, giving them the help they need to make informed decisions about their own use.

It’s clear that the government’s taking alcohol misuse seriously, so we hope it signals more investment in services such as Swanswell, which can give people the help and support they need to change and be happy, while saving billions of pounds for the NHS.

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







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