Alcohol industry braced for attack on price promotions

The drinks industry is bracing itself for a “damning report” on the way alcohol is promoted on price. The Sheffield University report is expected to present the first evidence linking cheap booze to binge drinking.

Its imminent release will follow the launch this summer of the Department of Health’s “Safe, Sensible, Social” consultation on alcohol strategy.

Drinks industry sources suggest, however, that unlike the Scottish Parliament, Westminster is not likely to propose a minimum price of alcohol per unit because it would be too difficult for politicians to see through in the current climate when “most households are struggling to pay their bills”.

The report is expected to point to price promotion being responsible for harmful drinking, but will also note that increasing the price of alcohol is unlikely to have a major impact on reducing the binge drinking culture. It is also expected to say that if alcohol prices are increased then it will hit the “pockets” of responsible drinkers.

It is understood the report will trigger the Government to scrutinise price promotions led by both the on-trade and off-trade, and clampdown on happy hours and two-for-the-price-of-one deals.

Consultants KPMG has already published its report looking at alcohol industry standards (MW July 22), which found poor practice in the way alcohol is promoted.

The Scottish Government, meanwhile, is expected to “water down” its controversial plans for a minimum pricing on alcohol and allow local licensing boards to impose minimum pricing in areas where binge drinking is a problem.

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