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UK government ‘too influenced’ by supermarkets and drinks industry, report says

The UK government is too influenced by supermarkets and the drinks industry, according to a new report issued by MPs.

The Commons health committee said the drinks industry and supermarkets hold more power over the government than health experts and called for a minimum price for alcohol, a rise in duty and much tighter regulations.

But Prime Minister Gordon Brown dismissed the idea of minimum pricing when it was suggested last year by Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, saying it would unfairly hit the majority who are moderate drinkers.

The average moderate drinker would pay 11 pence more per week for alcohol if a minimum price of 40 pence per unit was set, the report said.

MPs said it would force a switch to weaker wines and beers.

The change would increase the cost of a 10% abv wine to £2.80, a 13% abv wine to £3.40 and a 15% abv wine to £4.20.

‘It is not widely known that there are about nine units in a bottle of 13% wine,’ the report said.

‘A woman drinking half a bottle of wine a day is consuming over 30 units a week, which is more than twice the recommended levels.’

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles said that the report ‘is just part of the concerted campaign by elements of the health lobby to punish millions of hard-working people while doing nothing to tackle the problem few.’

Other recommendations included the mandatory labelling of drinks with warnings and details of units, restrictions on advertising and promotions and a ban on alcohol ads on social networking websites.

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Written by Shirley Kumar

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