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Gordon Brown rules out CMO's minimum alcohol pricing plan

By Steve Nowottny

The Prime Minister has rejected plans to curb binge drinking by setting minimum prices for alcohol, saying it is important to protect the interests of ‘the sensible majority of moderate drinkers'.

In his annual report published today, Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson had proposed introducing minimum pricing as an ‘immediate priority', with a suggested minimum price per unit of 50p.

Sir Liam said: ‘Implementing this minimum price-per-unit policy would save an estimated £1 billion every year, impact high-risk drinkers more than others and eliminate cheap supermarket drink that young people binge on.'

And the BMA had cautiously supported the plan, urging the Government to 'explore all avenues'.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the association's head of science and ethics, said: 'Sir Liam Donaldson's, proposals on tackling alcohol misuse are very interesting. It is important to remember that the CMO is trying to turn the tide on the soaring rates of illness and death attributed to over-consumption of alcohol in England.'

'This is a health priority and the government, health professionals, the alcohol industry and other stakeholders have a responsibility to explore all avenues in an attempt to reduce the number of people who become ill or die every year because of alcohol misuse. There is a lot of evidence that shows that pricing affects how much people drink so this area needs to be considered.'

But while the Government is due to respond formally to Sir Liam's proposals in due course, at a press conference this morning Gordon Brown appeared to rule out the move.

He said: ‘We do not want the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more or suffer as a result of the excesses of a tiny minority. And that's the context in which we have to look at the problems that the chief medical officer has raised.'

The Prime Minister has rejected the CMO's proposal for minimum alcohol pricing

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