Sir: We at the Faculty of Public Health withdrew from the Responsibility Deal because we are dismayed and disappointed by the government’s decision not to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and its inaction on standardised packaging for tobacco, despite clear evidence demonstrating the public health gains these measures would bring (‘Responsibility Deal hit by public health directors’ walkout,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 29 July).
Using legislation to bring in measures like minimum unit pricing would have been quicker than a ‘softly softly’ approach. There is no way of knowing if the Responsibility Deal has been truly effective because it is unlikely the key pledges will be independently and properly evaluated.
For example, there is no case for saying the Billion Unit Pledge for alcohol is a success. Any gains from people drinking lower-alcohol beer have been cancelled out by the increase in people drinking wine and spirits. On these two measures alone, the Deal has not achieved its original purpose.
Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health