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Medical chief to unveil minimum-price alcohol plans

16 March 2009

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The government’s chief medical officer is expected to unveil plans to impose a minimum price on alcohol, but the suggestions have not been welcomed by ministers.

Sir Liam Donaldson, backed by health professionals but opposed by drink manufacturers, will recommend that shops be required to charge at least 50p per unit for drinks, doubling the cost of some beverages.

Under the plan a can of beer would cost at least £1 and a bottle of wine a minimum £4.

However, the Department of Health has indicated that while households and businesses are struggling with the recession, the prospect of the proposal being adopted is slim.

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Cabinet minister James Purnell also took a stand against the plan, saying that the government would not “punish the responsible majority” with a proposal such as this.

Sir Liam’s annual report comes amid concern about the effects of heavy drinking on the state of the nation’s health.

The proposal has been backed by Nuffield, the UK’s leading health charity, which believes that increasing prices will cut down on the amount of alcohol people consume, while Labour MP Kevin Barron, chairman of the Commons Health Committee, said the idea at least deserved consideration.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health