Responsible drinkers will be forced to pay more for over half of all alcohol products, while failing to tackle harmful drinking, under government plans for minimum unit pricing, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has warned.
In its response to the Home Office consultation on the plans, which ended this week, the WSTA claimed minimum pricing set at 45p would increase the price of 52%of the alcoholic drinks sold in the off-trade.
But it fears the government could cave in to pressure to set the level at 50p, warning the proportion of drinks affected would rise to 64%.
The WSTA, which is spearheading an industry campaign against the plans, backed by the likes of Asda, Sainsbury’s Morrisons, Diageo and SABMiller, is conducting a poll which currently shows 72% are against the plans and 26% in support.
Its submission comes as a leading alcohol charity has claimed plans for minimum pricing will not be effective in cutting consumptions among problem drinkers.
A survey conducted with over 1,000 of Addaction’s service users, almost two thirds believed the measure would not work.
“We need to ensure that there is a commitment from government and the industry to inform and educate both young people and consumers,” said chief executive Simon Antrobus.”For those problematic drinkers for whom MUP appears to have little impact, we need effective and timely treatment and support.”
“The government should start listening to the experts, such as Addaction, and start focussing its attention and resources on targeted solutions to help the most harmful drinkers as well as tougher enforcement of existing legislation and more and better education about alcohol,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.
“We have always said that minimum unit pricing is unfair, ineffective and probably illegal. Commons sense, and the modelling used to support the government’s policy, all tell us that the heaviest drinkers are the least responsive to price.”