Duncan Smith, a key aide to current Tory leader David Cameron, told The Times that supermarkets are being “immoral” by deep discounting alcohol.
“The behaviour of the supermarkets on alcohol is as close to being immoral as you can get … there’s no question that they’re encouraging young people to drink and they’re creating alcoholics,” he told the newspaper.
Duncan Smith, who will be charged with bringing together Government policy to fix what he calls “broken society” if the Tories win the election, also says there should be an across the board tax increase on alcohol to tackle abuse.
“We are into unpopular territory now, but to deal with something like alcohol that is damaging the fabric of the nation, we need to raise prices. There is a direct connection between the price of alcohol and consumption,” he says.
Stephen Robertson, of the British Retail Consortium, told The Times: “Supermarkets are the most responsible sellers of alcohol. Pushing up prices won’t make a difference. Changing attitudes will and that’s what retailers are engaged in.”
A blanket tax rise goes beyond Tory party policy with the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, recently proposing a duty increase on super strength lagers and ciders and alcopops. The party also wants to see a ban on selling drinks under cost price.
Duncan Smith’s comments on supermarkets come as research shows that they are reducing the number of promotions on alcoholic drinks. A study for the Grocer found deals on alcohol in January made up 22% of all promotions, down from 26% last year.