AN MP says he is ‘open to the evidence’ as to whether or not the proposed minimum alcohol price should be 50p a unit.
Burton Tory Andrew Griffiths spoke after leading British medical bodies called for the charge, which could double the cost of a bottle of vodka or cider.
“I’ve always been convinced that 40p is the right sort of level to introduce this,” said the MP, secretary of the parliamentary group for the misuse of drugs and alcohol.
“But I’m open to the evidence and the science as to where that minimum price should be.”
Mr Griffiths (pictured) spoke after groups including the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners said the minimum unit price (MUP) must be 50p to prevent 98,000 hospital admissions and 3,060 alcohol-related deaths over 10 years.
Their call pre-dates a consultation on the level by the Government, which is committed to introducing an MUP to cut bingeing on cheap booze.
The most likely prices are 40p, 45p or 50p, the rate chosen by the Scottish Government.
If the same price were set in England and Wales, a two-litre bottle of Sainsbury’s Basics cider, now £1.18, would soar to £10.50, while a bottle of the supermarket’s Basics vodka, now £6.41, would rocket to £14.
The medical establishment says evidence shows that heavy and young drinkers are more affected by higher alcohol prices than moderate drinkers, but that a 40p MUP ‘would not be anywhere near as effective’ as a 50p rate.
Mr Griffiths said: “There’s a debate to be had about whether it’s 40p or 50p and we need to look at the evidence about that.
“But what I’m convinced of is that introducing a minimum price at the right level would have a big impact, particularly for young people who go out and buy the cheapest thing they can find on the shelf.”
The MP said his main concern was the ‘dangerous’ effect supermarkets’ cheap alcohol pricing was having on community pubs and the brewing industry.
“Introducing an MUP would not affect the pricing in a pub or, indeed, a bottle of Pedigree on the supermarket shelf; but it would stop these irresponsible promotions of incredibly strong cider and lager,” he said.
Mr Griffiths said supermarkets’ pricing strategies were ‘encouraging people to have the wrong view of alcohol’