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Evidence needed for minimum pricing

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An evidence based approach should be adopted by the government to determine any enforced alcohol pricing, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

A Treasury review is currently taking place to establish if measures such as minimum alcohol pricing or raising duty would have a positive effect on problems associated with binge drinking.

The ACS has previously been a critic on a compulsory base level price on alcoholic products and has again warned the government on the dangers of penalising sensible drinkers.

James Lowman, CEO of the ACS, said: “Alcohol is a product sold and consumed responsibly by millions of people across the country. Interventions to increase duty would impact on all including the overwhelming majority who consume alcohol responsibly.

“We are therefore deeply sceptical that any measure that increase cost of alcohol across the board will deliver benefits that outweigh the massive harm to consumer interests.

“Evidence suggests that increased prices lead to less consumption, but not necessarily amongst those that present a risk to their health or to anti-social behaviour. These groups are the least responsive to price increases and other interventions based on behaviour change are more clearly effective.”

Homeless charity Thames Reach claimed in the Guardian last week that cheap super strength cider and beers are currently killing more displaced people than the drugs heroin and crack.

Although the ACS is opposed to any blanket increase on alcohol duty, it would not necessarily oppose evidence led legislation targeting problem products.

Shane Brennan, Public Affairs Director for the ACS, told Retail Gazette: “For specific products it may be right to increase prices but only after proper analysis of the evidence has been conducted.

“We welcome the outcome of thorough research conducted on behalf of the government, which we think is currently absent from the debate.

“Support from the ACS would be considered for any price increases on certain products proved to have a significant impact on vulnerable people.”

Published on Wednesday 01 September by Editorial Assistant

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