New rules are to help GPs and hospitals identify people who drink too much and give them advice and support, the government has announced.
Ministers have already ordered an independent review which is looking into the relationship between alcohol prices and the damage done to health.
This is due to report back next summer, but during a debate in the Commons, health minister Ben Bradshaw said new laws could be brought in to combat binge-drinking.
He said: “We remain concerned about the practice by shops and supermarkets of deep discounting promotions – often as loss leaders and below cost price of alcoholic products.
“Depending on the review’s findings, we are prepared to change the law.
“It’s in all of our interests to reduce the harm to health and the costs to society of excessive alcohol consumption, while avoiding unnecessary or nannyish restrictions to adults who wish to enjoy a legal product.”
He added that the government is particularly concerned about drinking by under-18s, 18 to 24-year-old “binge” drinkers, and older people classed as “harmful” drinkers.
Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh backed the move to help doctors target problem drinkers, but said there needs to be a change in the country’s “cultural habit” towards alcohol.
Copyright © PA Business 2007