The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed Gordon Brown’s refusal to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson had previously called upon the government to adopt the measure in a bid to tackle alcohol related harm. He suggested a 50p
minimum unit price for alcohol sold from the off-trade, rising to £1 per unit for alcohol sold in the on-trade.
This week the Prime Minister said he would not implement the minimum pricing proposals. At a Downing Street press conference he said: "We don’t want the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more or suffer as a result of the excesses of a minority."
Sir Liam’s report suggested a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol, meaning a standard bottle of wine could not be sold for less than £4.50, or the average six pack of lager for less than £6.00.
ACS said it had submitted evidence to the Health Select Committee inquiry into Alcohol, highlighting the negative impact pricing restrictions would have for convenience stores. As an alternative, it said it had argued for greater implementation of existing laws.
Legislation is currently progressing through Parliament in the Policing and Crime Bill which the ACS said would introduce a set of mandatory conditions for alcohol licences. Some of these conditions could prohibit various price and promotional mechanics.
ACS chief executive James Lowman commented: “We are pleased the Prime Minister rejected the Chief Medical Officer’s suggestion
"In our submission to the Health Select Committee Inquiry into alcohol we have highlighted the difficulties of introducing restrictions on alcohol price. Such policies are a blunt tool which would penalise responsible retailers and consumers alike, without effectively targeting the minority of drinkers who cause alcohol related harm. Instead there needs to be more focused approach on problem drinkers, such as greater prosecutions of adults who proxy purchase alcohol for those underage.”