The government will today announce plans to plough ahead with minimum pricing for alcohol in England and Wales, despite huge opposition from the industry.
The Prime Minister will set out plans to turn the tide against binge drinking which he describes as the “scourge of the nation.”
Proposals will include a minimum unit price for alcohol, with a consultation over the exact price over the summer but a suggestion it will be 40p per unit.
Plans will also include a ban on the sale of multi-buy discount deals and the consultation will also include proposals to stop multi-buy promotions.
The strategy is aimed at putting an end to cheap white ciders, spirits and super-strength lagers, says Number 10.
In a statement later today the PM will say binge drinking accounts for half of all alcohol sales.
“We can’t go on like this,” he will say. “We have to tackle the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking. And we have to do it now.
“The strategy will claim a 40p minimum price could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 9,000 fewer alcohol related deaths over the next decade.
The government, which says it plans to legislate “as soon as possible” will also come out fighting against claims that minimum pricing would be illegal to impose, describing it as one of many “myths” surrounding the plans
It also released figures claiming the cost of a 40p minimum unit price would be just £21-23 more a year for the average drinker, £5-06 a year for moderate drinkers but up to £135 a year for harmful drinkers.
Reacting to the plans, BRC food Director Andrew Opie, said: “David Cameron is seriously misguided. It’s simplistic to imagine a minimum price is some sort of silver bullet solution to irresponsible drinking.
“Irresponsible drinking has cultural causes and retailers have been hugely engaged in information and education to change attitudes to drinking because that is what is working.
“It’s a myth to suggest that supermarkets are the problem or that a pub is somehow a safer drinking environment.”
The proposals would mean a 14% bottle of wine would cost no less than £4.20, a 1litre bottle of 40% abv vodka £16 and a two litre bottle of Strongbow cider £4.24.
A 4-pack of Tennents Super lager would cost £6.34 and a 12 x 440ml case of 4% lager would cost £8.45.
Ironically, the plans for minimum pricing will be released on the same day as a voluntary initiative under the Responsibility Deal, involving the major supermarkets and suppliers, aimed at meeting health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans of cutting a billion units of alcohol from sale.
“The Responsibility Deal shows what can be achieved for individuals and families when we work together with industry,” Lansley said today.