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British Government rejects minimum pricing

A recommendation by UK chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson to impose a minimum price on alcoholic drinks of 50p per unit in England and Wales has been rejected by prime minister Gordon Brown.

The plan to fix prices would have resulted in the average bottle of wine costing a minimum of £5.05 – a huge increase in the current average price of £4.01.

The Prime Minister said they did not want the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more or suffer as a result of the excesses of a small minority.

But elsewhere in the world there is support for minimum pricing strategies. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) argues that a similar scheme in Australia which would increase the price of alcohol would make teenagers less able to afford the drinks and would also benefit the health of the wider population. The AMA is in favour of volumetric taxation across all drinks, not just alcopops, as part of a strategy of education and labelling, signage and restrictions on alcohol marketing.

It would also encourage people to purchase lower alcohol content beverages, which would cost less, so that would be a healthy change.
Australia is the biggest wine exporter to the UK, and the minimum price of wine there would rise, under the proposal, to at least $A10.