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Government tables 40p minimum alcohol pricing limit

The Government has tabled plans to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol in England in an effort to curb the harmful effects of binge drinking.

Ministers want to introduce a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol, with retailers not permitted to offer alcohol priced below that level.

The move comes just a day after LMC leaders in Scotland, where similar proposals are being considered, urged governments in the rest of the UK to follow their lead in pushing for legislative change.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the Government was acting to try and reverse the drinking culture that led to 1.2 million hospital admissions last year.

Mr Cameron said: ‘Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities.'

‘We're consulting on the actual price, but if it is 40p that could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 900 fewer alcohol-related deaths per year by the end of the decade.'

The Government said it will also consider banning buy-one-get-one-free deals, but said it would allow half-price promotions.

The announcement came after Scottish LMCs yesterday backed a motion supporting the Scottish government's reintroduction of the Minimum Price Alcohol Bill, and ‘urges other UK nations to adopt similar legislation'.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, special adviser to the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: ‘Healthcare workers who struggle every day to cope with the impact of our nation's unhealthy drinking will welcome tough new policies in areas such as price and licensing that are based on evidence and should bring about real benefits.'