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UK: Alcohol lobby group calls for pricing intervention

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The CEO of Alcohol Concern used a spirits industry conference to call on the UK government yesterday (20 April) to intervene on drinks prices in the country.

Don Shenker told delegates at the World Whiskies Conference in London that there was a correlation between affordibility and alcohol consumption. "Alcohol mortality is linked to affordability," he said.

"My argument is that there is a correlation between price and alcohol consumption. We see alcohol price as a huge issue on the way people consumer alcohol.

"If you looked internationally at when governments make moves to reduce affordability of alcohol you see examples in the reduction of levels of harm."

Shenker warned that young drinkers were particularly affected by the availability of cheap alcohol, claiming that the average weekly pocket money allowance in the UK was enough to buy 57 units of cider.

Shenker also criticised the quality and levels of social behaviour campaigns, particularly those run by the Home Office.

"Social behaviour campaigns in isolation won't work," he said. "I also don't think they are every good compared to drinks industry campaigns to sell alcohol."

As part of its plan to tackle alcohol abuse, Alcohol Concern is also calling for mandatory labelling and point of sale information on alcohol units and a watershed ban on alcohol advertising.

Delegates at the conference challenged Shenker on whether such measures only demonised drink and the vast majority who drank responsibly, pointing out that the small percentages who drank to excess did so for deep seated reasons that raising prices could not change.

However, Shenker countered that the numbers affected by alcohol abuse were not small, with 10m UK drinkers consuming more than government guidelines, 22,000 dying of alcohol related causes a year and 800,000 hospitalised.


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