Call for minimum alcohol pricing

Hillingdon Times: Minimum per-unit alcohol pricing could help problem drinkers, say doctors. Minimum per-unit alcohol pricing could help problem drinkers, say doctors.

Failure to introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol in England and Wales is "damaging the most vulnerable in society", leading doctors have said.

The introduction of a minimum price could have "far-reaching benefits", the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said.

The RCP said a lcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions are still rising but alcohol policy "appears to have been derogated to the regions".

In October, David Cameron insisted he has not given up on the idea of setting a minimum per-unit price for alcohol despite shelving the policy in the summer.

The measure was left out of the Government's plans to combat problem drinking in July, despite having been vocally championed by the Prime Minister.

It sparked claims that he had been influenced by his party's election strategist, Australian lobbyist Lynton Crosby, whose firm is reported to have represented drinks giants.

Speaking ahead of an RCP conference on the harms of alcohol, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the RCP's special adviser on alcohol, said that a minimum price per unit would not disadvantage moderate drinkers

The conference, which is also being hosted by the British Society of Gastroenterology and the British Association for the Study of the Liver, will outline the benefits of introducing such a policy.

Sir Ian, who is also president of the British Society of Gastroenterology, said: "There is accumulating evidence that UK Government's failure to implement an evidence-based alcohol strategy is damaging the most vulnerable in society.

"Individuals, families and communities are suffering harms that could be reversed by policies like a minimum unit price, which do not disadvantage moderate drinkers but have far-reaching benefits for those that suffer most."

Dr Mark Hudson, p resident of the British Association for the Study of the Liver, said: " The evidence suggests that minimum unit pricing works and this would be the most practical way of reducing heavy alcohol consumption and reducing alcohol-related deaths."

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