Call for minimum alcohol unit price

A group of leading medical bodies has called on the Government to set a minimum alcohol price of 50p per unit to tackle "head on" the problems caused by cheap drink and protect the next generation.

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) said the minimum unit price tariff would target the heaviest drinkers who harm themselves and others around them - especially children.

The group, made up of 31 organisations including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, argues there is "good evidence" to suggest it would make a real difference.

In a letter to The Sunday Times, the alliance, whose mission is to reduce the damage caused to health by alcohol misuse, wrote: "This policy will tackle head-on the problems caused by cheap drink, not only to drinkers but to those around them - the innocent victims of alcohol harm.

"Minimum unit pricing will target the heaviest drinkers: those who cause the most damage to themselves and others."

It added: "A child who lives with a problem drinker is vulnerable to neglect, violence and abuse, and a significant number of child protection cases are linked to alcohol.

"It is essential that the government stands firm in tackling problem drinking in order to turn the tide of alcohol harm."

The Government's alcohol strategy suggests there should be a 40p minimum alcohol unit price in England and Wales to stop binge-drinking on cheap drinks.

A 50p per unit rate has already been agreed in Scotland and is due to take effect next April but is subject to a legal challenge by opponents to the scheme.

The AHA said minimum unit pricing was not a "silver bullet" but would help protect future generations.

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