Comment - Health Committee eyes minimum pricing
A committee of MPs in the UK is expected to add its voice to the call for a minimum price on alcoholic drinks early in 2010.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee will report recommendations in early January on ways to curb alcohol abuse.
At the weekend, the Guardian newspaper obtained details of the report in its current form. According to the paper, the report calls for a minimum price of GBP0.5 per alcohol unit in drinks, as well as tougher action on promotions and marketing, such as a ban on sponsoring certain events.
Details of the report could not be immmediately confirmed, but industry leaders have been expecting calls for tougher restrictions.
There is still some politicking to be done, with opposition MPs from the Conservative Party understood to have requested that the clause on minimum pricing be watered down to a broader promise of action on pricing.
Although trade bodies remain opposed to a blanket base price for drinks per alcohol unit, there is growing consensus in the trade that some form of compromise on pricing will have to be reached - such is the strengthening current of opinion on all sides of the political spectrum.
Drinks industry leaders will have to hit the ground running in 2010.
However, there is no certainty that the Committee proposals will become law. With a general election looming in the first half of 2010 and a packed legislation agenda already outlined by the current UK Government, industry may have some room for manoeuvre.
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