Doctors’ body calls for minimum pricing

The Royal College of Physicians (RPC) has joined other medical associations in calling for a minimum price per unit of alcohol to tackle misuse, arguing that consumers are spending more on everyday items to make up for the losses supermarkets are making by selling alcohol below cost.

An article to be published by the Royal College of Physicians next week will argue that “moderate” drinkers are footing the bill for a minority to drink to excess and that a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol “would end this subsidy”.

Dr Chris Record, the article’s author, argues if retailers are no longer selling alcohol below cost, they might introduce price promotions on other healthier products, such as fruit and vegetables.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) argues minimum alcohol pricing will “penalise” the responsible majority “by forcing up prices and reducing choice” and not tackle problem drinkers.

Andrew Opie, BRC food director, says: “”The most effective of way of tackling problem drinkers is not using price, but changing the culture around alcohol.”

The RPC joins the British Medical Association, which is also calling for a complete ban on alcohol advertising, and the Government’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson in calling for minimum pricing to tackle misuse.

The Scottish Government has already proposed setting a minimum price per unit, unveiling research earlier this week that the plan could save Scotland £950m over 10 years.

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