Government alcohol pricing plans under fire

18 January, 2011

The government is expected to announce plans to ban the sale of alcohol for less than the combined cost of duty and VAT.

Campaigners against aggressive supermarket discounting argue that the proposals will do little to curb rock-bottom pricing. Indeed Asda already refuses to sell drinks for less than the cost of tax.

Under the plans, a litre bottle of vodka or whisky could still be sold for as little as £10.71 and low-strength beer for just 38p a can.

The government has shied away from any attempt to introduce minimum prices per unit of alcohol, fearing that such a scheme would be open to legal challenge. The Scottish government wanted to go down that route last year but was defeated by opposition parties.

Professor Ian Gilmore, who represents the Alcohol Health Alliance, described the government’s proposal as a “small step” which would have “no effect at all on the health of this nation”.

Alcohol Concern, the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer & Pub Association also said the plans did not go far enough.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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