Will they or won’t they? Are ministers about u-turn on MUP?

Mixed messages appear to be coming from the corridors of power today as wholesalers wait to hear how the Government intends to deal with cheap alcohol.

The industry woke up this morning to be told that plans to introduce minimum pricing were likely to be dropped, however, by this afternoon the BBC was reporting that David Cameron was still firmly behind “dealing with” cheap booze. However, there was no confirmation of how he intended to do that.

The BBC reported that Mr Cameron’s cabinet was still considering the outcome of a consultation on imposing a minimum price of 45p per unit, but that he’d insisted sales of “20p cans of lager” had “got to change”.

The drinks industry would obviously applaud plans to scrap minimum unit pricing (MUP).  The Wine amp; Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale told Wholesale News today: “Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge-drinker.”

And general opinion is that the plans could be dropped because they will be too difficult to enforce, while penalising sensible drinkers during such a delicate time for the economy.

What’s more the latest ONS General Lifestyle survey shows that continued progress is being made in reducing binge drinking in the UK, with the most notable decreases in the 16 to 24 age group. 

The report, published on March 8, shows that significant improvements have been made including:

  • The proportion of men exceeding four units on their heaviest drinking day is down from 41% in 2005 to 34% in 2011
  • The proportion of women exceeding three units was down from 34% in 2005 to 28% in 2011
  • The proportion of men drinking more than eight units on their heaviest drinking day fell from 23% in 2005 to 18% in 2011
  • The proportion of women drinking more than 6 units in their heaviest drinking day fell from 15% in 2005 to 12% in 2011
  • The most pronounced changes have occurred in the 16 to 24 age group
  • Among men the proportion drinking more than 4 units on their heaviest drinking day fell from 46% in 2005 to 32% in 2011
  • The proportion drinking more than 8 units decreased from 32% to 22%, over the same period. Among women the proportion drinking more than three units on their heaviest drinking day fell from 41% in 2005 to 31% in 2011
  • The proportion drinking more than six units fell from 27% to 18%, over the same period

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