Health chiefs back PM’s minimum price for alcohol
8:24am Friday 30th December 2011 in News
HEALTH bosses in Bolton have welcomed news that Prime Minister David Cameron looks set to overrule Cabinet colleagues to push through plans setting a minimum price for alcohol.
He is reported to have ordered officials to draw up plans for a minimum price for alcohol sales in an effort to stop cheap drink being sold in shops and supermarkets.
The proposals for a 40p to 50p unit price is expected to cost drinkers an additional £700 million a year.
The approach, which may be reflected in the Government’s alcohol strategy in February, could “save lives”, according to the town’s health chiefs.
Latest figures revealed that alcohol directly caused the deaths of 134 people in Bolton in the past two years.
Debra Malone, public health consultant for NHS Bolton, said: “We are highly supportive of minimum pricing for a unit of alcohol.
“This would not only have health benefits and prevent alcohol related deaths, but also crime and disorder would reduce very quickly.
“It would help protect the most vulnerable, particularly young people who at the moment can buy alcohol with their pocket money.
“This is not tried and tested, but evidence suggests it would be effective.”
The idea for a minimum price for alcohol was first raised by the Association of Greater Manchester, which has been considering a bylaw to enforce it across the county, an idea for which the Prime Minister is supportive.
A recent study found setting a minimum price of 30p per unit would prevent 300 deaths a year, 40p about 1,000 and 50p more than 2,000.
It is said that Mr Cameron, pictured below, could overrule Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who favoured a voluntary system for retailers, and insist that the basement price be imposed by law.
The scheme will be similar to one introduced in Scotland, where alcohol must be sold for at least 45p a unit.
A government spokesman said: “The Government will continue to review all available evidence. Our alcohol strategy, which we will set out shortly, will outline what further steps we are taking to tackle this problem. No decisions have been made.”