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Deals on alcohol to be a thing of the past

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Supermarkets will be banned from offering multi-buy deals on alcohol under new plans to help curb binge drinking.

Under the controversial plans, a minimum price is also proposed for beer, wine and spirits in an attempt to lower the £12bn cost to taxpayers from problem drinking.

Critics have hit out against these plans as unfair to those who are moderate drinkers and likely to penalise those who prefer to drink moderately but like to shop around for the best deals on pricier drinks.

The minimum price of alcohol will be set at 45p per unit, raising the lowest price for a can of beer or cider to about £1.12, and for a bottle of wine to £4.40.

Reacting to the Government’s Alcohol Strategy proposals, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) stressed retailers are already hugely engaged in action that is making a difference.

This includes funding the Drinkaware campaign, using Challenge 25 to prevent underage sales and putting unit labelling on products to help people regulate their drinking.

Andrew Opie, BRC Food Director, said: “Most major retailers believe minimum pricing and controls on promotions are unfair to most customers.

“They simply penalise the vast majority, who are perfectly responsible drinkers, while doing nothing to reduce irresponsible drinking.

“Harmful drinking has cultural causes and retailers are tackling those with collaborative working on clear labelling and targeted awareness campaigns that help customers drink responsibly. Where’s the evidence that imposing a blanket measure that puts up prices for all customers will make a difference?”

The BRC says that most consumers already drink less than the recommended limits, and should not be denied access to discounts.

Opie added: “”The Government should recognise the role of personal responsibility. It should not allow interfering in the market to regulate prices and promotions to become the default approach for public health policy.”

Ministers accept that a legal challenge to the proposal, which will be put out to consultation today, is highly likely if it becomes law, as well as challenge from the EU free trade rules.

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