Health Alliance angers trade with call for harsh measures

Shopkeepers from across the UK have slated a report from health groups which calls for the government to take tougher action on alcohol misuse.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, made up of 70 medical bodies, is putting pres- sure on ministers to consider a raft of new measures, including a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship and increasing the price of certain high-strength products.

The group also called for a new mini- mum unit price of 50p, up from David Cameron’s current plan of 45p, and it wants one-third of labels on cans and bottles to contain warnings about the risks of alcohol.

Jimmy Dhaliwal, who runs a Bargain Booze store in Atherstone, Warwickshire, thinks the proposed measures are wrong.

“It would be a waste of government money – it needs to get to the route of the problem by tackling unsocial behaviour and controlling the streets better,” he said.

Dhaliwal also criticised the AHA’s call for increased prices. “This country will develop the same problem with alcohol as it does now with cigarettes, which is a lot of bootlegging,” he said.

Ian Loftus, manager of drinks retailer House of the Trembling Madness in York, agreed that, while the UK does have an alcohol consumption problem, there are better methods of addressing this.

“A media campaign on drink prob- lems would be far more effective than printing on bottles,” he said.

“Britain is famous for producing some of the finest drinks in the world and we need to continue to advertise and do sponsorship deals in order to export these products.”

The report has also prompted the Wine & Spirits Trade Association to urge the government to drop its plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol.

The WSTA has fully launched its Why Should Responsible Drinkers Pay More? in response to the AHA demands.

“Consumers have made it very clear: they are opposed to minimum unit pricing,” said chief executive Miles Beale. “They do not think it is fair that responsible drinkers should have to pay more because of the actions of a minority of irresponsible drinkers.”

Beale stressed that the WSTA is “absolutely committed to tackling problem drinking”, but said that, rather than continuing to look at restrictions on price, availability and marketing, the government should look at “locally- targeted solutions, better education and enforcement of existing measures that have been shown to work”.

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