Chancellor Alistair Darling has increased the price of alcohol and cigarettes in his first Budget.

From Sunday night, beer will increase by 4p a pint, wine by 14p a bottle, cider by 3p a litre and spirits by 55p a bottle.

Darling also said duties on alcohol would increase by 2% above inflation in each of the next four years.

The price of cigarettes rose 11p for a packet of 20 from 6.00pm last night, and the price of five cigars rose 4p.

The increases were condemned by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association. "It is no cause for celebration that British consumers will now pay more tax on wine than anyone else in the European Union,” said CEO Jeremy Beadles.

"Wine and spirit drinkers already face the prospect of price rises as a result of the increasing cost of raw materials - grapes, grain, packaging, glass, freight and energy. This tax hike will simply make things worse for the average consumer."

Meanwhile, Darling also warned laws would be introduced by 2009 to charge for plastic carrier bags if retailers did not make “significant progress on a voluntary basis”.

The British Retail Consortium said the government had abandoned its agreement with retailers. "Retailers have already committed to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags by a quarter by the end of this year,” said director general Stephen Robertson. “Huge progress has been made without any need for legislation.”

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