NICE demands fewer licences

11 June, 2010

A leading health body has said the number of outlets selling alcohol should be cut to reduce alcohol-related harm.

The National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence also said it favours reduced trading hours and minimum pricing.

NICE said applications for new licences should take into account their impact on alcohol-related illnesses and that a legal obligation should be imposed on retailers to consider the health of customers.

The proposals were condemned by the Association of Convenience Stores. Chief executive James Lowman said: “Artificial limits on the number of licences allowed in a geographical area would lead to some responsible retailers not getting licences, and some existing licensees losing their licence through no fault of their own.

“The award and retention of an alcohol licence should be based on a retailer’s ability to sell alcohol responsibly, not an arbitrary judgement of how many licences should be granted in that area.”?NICE also called for a complete ban on alcohol advertising to be considered to protect children and young people.

Prof Eileen Kaner, chair of NICE’s guidance development group, said: “We are constantly surrounded by various images of – and opportunities to buy – alcohol, from promotional offers in supermarkets to ads in the media. This encourages us to drink more than we otherwise would, sometimes without even realising it.”?Wine & Spirit Trade Association spokesman Gavin Partington said minimum pricing “was probably illegal and won’t stop problem drinkers”. He pointed out that advertising was already tightly regulated and banning it would threaten thousands of jobs. “We all want to tackle alcohol misuse, so let’s focus on those with problems and not punish everybody.”?NICE is an independent organisation tasked with providing national guidance on the promotion of good health.

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