Minimum alcohol pricing on the way?

Monday 19th March 2018 6:28 am
Off-licenses will be mostly affected by minimum pricing

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The island could introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.

The idea is being looked at as part of a proposed strategy as a response to problematic drinking on the island.

If successful, the plan would see a minimum unit price similar to that in Scotland, where a unit of alcohol cannot be sold for less than 50p from May 1.

While evidence shows that drinking among young people is on the decline, the report states that about 20% of ’adults are drinking at levels that may harm their health’, while 21.5% of families are affected by alcohol use.

Figures released also show that 8% of people in the island are binge drinkers, 20% of adults have some form of alcohol dependence while 14% abstain from alcoho. It also claims that 74% 11- to 18-year-olds never drink alcohol.

In response to this, the strategy has raised the issue of minimum unit pricing for alcohol due to what it calls a ’widespread belief that most of the alcohol which contributes to drunken behaviour is irresponsibly priced and sold’.

The strategy cites a study from Public Health England that says that evidence has shown minimum pricing can reduce alcohol-related harm while saving health care costs and a challenge in the UK Supreme Court has said the move is legal.

The strategy says: ’The substance misuse steering group has monitored the issues around the legal challenge and propose the introduction of minimum unit price in the Isle of Man.’

DHSC Minister David Ashford said: ’The minimum unit price is intended to reduce harmful drinking of large quantities of higher strength alcohol bought at heavily discounted prices from supermarkets and other off-trade outlets and consumed in uncontrolled environments.

’The minimum unit price may, in fact, be beneficial for the on-trade and in Scotland has the support of the pub trade and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.’

However, the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility has in the past few days calculated that the new unit pricing will cost the Scottish government as the ’measure is expected to reduce receipts by £40 million in 2018-19, before dropping slightly in later years’.

So the taxman will be worse off.

The business most likely to be hit are believed to be supermarkets and off-licences, where alcohol is often sold cheaply in bulk.

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