'Cut drink store numbers' – NICE

02 June, 2010

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

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

Applications for new licences should take into account the impact on alcohol-related illnesses and imposing a legal obligation for retailers to consider the health of customers when selling them alcohol.

A complete ban on alcohol advertising should be considered to protect children and young people from exposure to alcohol, NICE said.

It also favours restrictions on personal imports of alcohol products.

Professor Eileen Kaner, chair of the 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 us even realising it.”

Wine & Spirit Trade Association spokesman Gavin Partington said: “We need to educate people better and earlier about the risks associated with excessive drinking and we need proper enforcement of laws to address misuse and related anti-social behaviour.

"Minimum pricing is probably illegal and won't stop problem drinkers.

“Advertising is already tightly regulated and banning it would hit the pockets of millions of consumers and threaten the loss of thousands of jobs.

"We all want to tackle alcohol misuse, so let's focus on those who have the problem, not punish everybody."

NICE is an independent organisation charged with providing national guidance on the promotion of good health.

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