The Government has proposed a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol and a ban on multi-buy offers as part of a Home Office consultation on alcohol and crime.
The 10-week consultation, launched on Wednesday, is gathering views on mandatory licensing conditions and health as a licensing objective as well as the minimum unit price and a ban on multi-buy promotions.
According to the report, introducing the 45p minimum unit price would reduce consumption by 3.3 per cent, crime by 5,240 per year, and alcohol-related hospital admissions by 24,600 per year after ten years.
Commenting within the report, Home Secretary Theresa May MP said: “This is not about stopping the sensible, responsible drinking which supports pubs as part of the community fabric, creates thriving town centres, and provides employment and growth.
“The measures in our consultation are targeted explicitly at reducing harmful drinking.”
But retailers are concerned about the effects which the proposed measures could have on their sales.
A report by the Institute of Alcohol Studies suggests that supermarket promotions and discounts on alcohol, many of which the Government wishes to ban, increase sales by between 20 and 25 per cent and that 83 per cent of customers who purchase alcohol on promotion will return for a second purchase.
A statement from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) also reveals retailers’ doubts about the effect which the government’s proposals would have on problem drinking.
According to the BRC, retailers are already working to reduce irresponsible drinking, reducing underage drinking through the use of Challenge 25, and using unit labelling on alcoholic products to help customers monitor their own drinking.
BRC Food Director Andrew Opie said: “Most major retailers believe minimum pricing and controls on promotions are unfair to most customers.
“They simply penalise the vast majority, who are perfectly responsible drinkers, whilst doing nothing to reduce irresponsible drinking.
“Harmful drinking has cultural causes and retailers are tackling those with collaborative working on clear labelling and targeted awareness campaigns that help customers drink responsibly.
“Where’s the evidence that imposing a blanket measure that puts up prices for all customers will make a difference?
“The government should recognise the role of personal responsibility.
“It should not allow interfering in the market to regulate prices and promotions to become the default approach for public health policy.”
The consultation is open until February 6th 2013 and details of how to respond can be found on the Home Office website.