'Problem drinkers, not problem drinks' says WSTA

01 September, 2010

The government should not use alcohol duty as a means of dealing with alcohol misuse, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association has warned.

In a response to the government consultation on drinks tax reform, the WSTA says: “There are problem drinkers, not problem products.

“It is not possible to single out particular types of alcohol which are consumed by problem drinkers for targeted tax measures. Problem drinkers have access to, and consume the same products as moderate drinkers – it is their drinking patterns which make their consumption harmful.”

It adds: “Taxation should remain a revenue-raising measure. Evidence suggests that it is not an effective tool for tackling alcohol misuse.

“There are more effective ways in which the industry can help tackle alcohol misuse, such as through campaigns to encourage sensible choices about consumption and targeted local initiatives against under-age purchases.”

In its submission it points out that taxes on alcohol have already been increased by as much as 26% since the start of 2008 and that the planned duty escalator and VAT increase will already further raise the level of taxes on alcohol.

Home Affairs Minister James Brokenshire MP will be the guest speaker at this year’s WSTA Conference on September 15.

He is expected to discuss the Government’s consultation on proposals to reform the Licensing Act and introduce a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price.




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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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