Churches urge raising drink price to save lives

02 February 2012

by a staff reporter

A COALITION of Churches and Christian groups has urged the Government to introduce a min­imum price for alcohol, in an attempt to curb the health and social problems that it causes.

The group, which includes the Church of England, the Methodist Church, and the Baptist Union, welcomed recent suggestions from the Prime Minister that he is consid­ering stopping the sale of alcohol in shops and supermarkets at below 40p per unit. The Government is to release its alcohol strategy this month.

There are already proposals in Scotland to ban the sale of alcohol below 45p a unit.

The Churches’ letter referred to a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Methodist Church, which found that 61 per cent of those questioned felt that excessive drinking was a prob­lem in their neighbourhood.

The letter said: “We have seen the effects of cheap, strong drink on our streets, in our hospitals and police stations. It is in local communities that the damage caused by alcohol misuse is felt most deeply, par­ticularly disadvantaged commun­ities, which continue to suffer disproportionately from alcohol-related harms.

“Furthermore, it is estimated that between 1.3 and 2.6 million children are affected by parental problem-drinking. . . A joined-up national solution for these issues is clearly in the UK’s best interests as a whole.”

Alcohol misuse costs the UK an estimated £25 billion per year. Medical experts have called for a minimum unit price of 50p.

The letter also mentions a recent study from the University of Shef­field, which suggests that setting a minimum price of 40p per unit would prevent 1000 premature deaths a year, and 50p would prevent more than 2000 deaths.

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