The Government has announced plans to impose a minimum price of 45p per unit in a bid to stamp out binge-drinking and end the "vision of hell seen in city centres every weekend".

After announcing the rise, which will 52% of alcohol prices in supermarkets increase overnight, Policing minister Damian Green said action was clearly needed to "curb ultra-cheap binge drinking" among young people.

"Too many of us have seen city centres on a Friday and Saturday night often become a vision of hell," he added.

"A lot of this is fuelled by very cheap, very strong alcohol. The point of having a minimum unit price rather than, say, increasing taxation, is that you can target the shops that do deliberately sell very strong drink very cheaply [to young people]."

Home Secretary Theresa May has now launched a ten-week consultation on the price change, but it has been widely welcomed by health experts and children's charities.

Eight out of ten family doctors support the introduction of a minimum unit price according to a survey by the North East Alcohol Office (Balance). Whilte the majority of the region's influential clinical commissioning groups  have signed an open letter backing the Government's intention to introduce the MUP and calling for it to be at least 50p.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: "Cheap alcohol is having a devastating impact. It's ending lives, putting people in hospital, fuelling crime and threatening the future of our children and young people. This is the real cost of alcohol sold at pocket money prices. It's no bargain.

"We know that the more affordable alcohol is, the more people consume. A minimum unit price of at least 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences."

Posted 28/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com