Who is leading the battle to protect this vital life line to so many vulnerable individuals and isolated communities? And will we be among the losers if these businesses are forced to close?

Health minister Patricia Hewitt’s call for higher duty on Alcopops to discourage consumption by young people is really daft. The category is in decline so pricing it beyond the reach of young people simply penalises everyone else and speeds up its demise. The solution to binge drinking among 18-24 year olds lies elsewhere. The government’s pound;4m investment in their ‘Know Your Limits’ strategy targets young drinkers via TV, cinema, print, radio and online, and should help. The imminent launch of lower ABV Vodka-style drinks will not.

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