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UK committee backs minimum pricing
A group of Westminster MPs has followed the Scottish Government's lead and backed minimum pricing as a key weapon to tackle alcohol misuse.
The House of Commons' Health Select Committee's report on alcohol follows an investigation which featured evidence sessions from contributors ranging from health experts to representatives from the alcohol industry and supermarkets.
Their recommendations call on the UK Government to introduce minimum pricing and new licensing rules modelled on ones already introduced in Scotland.
The Committee expressed 'concern' that UK Government policy was 'much closer to, and too influenced by, the drinks industry and the supermarkets than those of expert health professionals'.
And the report rejects allegations by the alcohol industry and retailers that minimum pricing would harm moderate drinkers as 'not a serious argument' and dismisses claims that consumption levels are not affected by price as 'economic illiteracy'.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:
"The critics have claimed that minimum pricing punishes moderate drinkers; that it won't work; and that it's illegal. These claims just don't stack up - and the Select Committee has comprehensively rubbished them.
"Minimum pricing won't raise the price of all drinks - it targets the dirt-cheap supermarket ciders, lagers and low-grade spirits favoured by problem drinkers. By contrast, the responsibly priced products favoured by the majority will be almost completely untouched.
"Robust, independent research has shown that minimum pricing could save lives, cut illness and crime and reduce the massive burden alcohol misuse places on public services.
"Meanwhile, European parliamentary answers have made clear that the European Commission does not object to minimum pricing for alcohol as long as it is proportionate and has clear benefits for public health.
"Minimum pricing is now backed by a broad coalition including the four Chief Medical Officers of the UK, the British Medical Association, the Royal Colleges, all 17 public health directors in NHS Scotland, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association - and now one of Westminster's most influential committees.
"It is notable that this report holds Scotland up as an example to be emulated. It shows that we have not been afraid to be at the vanguard of public health policy before - and we can be again.
"I call on everyone who cares about Scotland's health to do the right thing and unite behind the Alcohol Bill."
Membership of the Commons Committee is:
Kevin Barron, MP(Chairman) Labour
Charlotte Atkins MP Labour
Peter Bone MP Conservative
Jim Dowd MP Labour
Sandra Gidley MP Liberal Democrat
Stephen Hesford MP Labour
Doug Naysmith MP Labour
Lee Scott MP Conservative
Howard Stoate MP Labour
Robert Syms MP Conservative
Richard Taylor MP Independent