Plans to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in England and Wales are set to be abandoned this week – to the delight of the drinks industry and the dismay of health campaigners.
Reports suggest that Home Secretary Theresa May will tell MPs that the Government has decided not to implement the proposal to set a minimum price of £0.40 per unit of alcohol, despite Prime Minister David Cameron backing the move last year.
Instead, plans to ban retailers from selling alcohol below cost price will be resurrected, targeting ‘loss-leader’ deals but leaving the vast majority of regular alcohol sales untouched.
Drinks industry organisations have long maintained that minimum pricing will unfairly impact consumers and businesses, while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse.
But Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, said axing the plans would be a ‘dark day for public health, and another sign that big business interests are more important to this government than the health of the nation.’
The Scottish government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing north of the border are in limbo pending a legal challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), Comité Vins and Spirits Europe.
The trio’s joint petition for judicial review was dismissed in March this year, but they are set to appeal.
Written by Richard Woodard