North East alcohol harm campaigners attack super strong cider for ‘pocket money prices’

Alcohol continues to be sold at 'pocket money' prices, with white cider on offer for pennies, according to a new report. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Alcohol continues to be sold at 'pocket money' prices, with white cider on offer for pennies, according to a new report. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
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Anti-alcohol campaigners in the region have attacked super strong cider being available for ‘pocket money prices’.

A new report - called Cheap alcohol: the price we pay - surveyed the price of almost 500 alcohol products at supermarkets, shops and off licences.

Five years since the last price report was conducted by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, and its partners, the new findings show alcohol can be bought for as little as 18p per unit.

The cheapest products are dominated by strong white ciders - predominantly consumed by children and heavy drinkers.

The study revealed that, a three-litre bottle of strong white cider - containing as much alcohol as 22 vodka shots - can be bought for £4.

At that price, the recommend weekly drinking limit of 14 units for men and women can be bought for around £2.50.

This years’ report found some of the worst culprits to be cheap white ciders and spirits, which are the drinks of choice for some of the most vulnerable members of society, including young people and dependent drinkers

Colin Shevills, director of Balance

It also means the average child’s pocket money of £5.75 could buy more than double an adults’ weekly limits.

The report highlights it was relatively easy to find many alcohol products at 25p per unit, half the 50p per unit the Scottish Government is trying to introduce.

Cheap alcohol is estimated to cost the North East £911m every year, with more than 67,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions, including over 300 hospital admissions per year for children with alcohol-specific conditions.

It is responsible for 195,360 alcohol-related crimes, causes 60 different medical conditions, and 45% of people in the North East are drinking at risky levels.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s five years since we teamed up with our partners around the UK to look at the price we’re paying for alcohol.

“In this time, despite the Government’s commitment to deal with the serious problems alcohol causes, very little has been done to change the price we pay for the cheapest alcohol.

“This years’ report found some of the worst culprits to be cheap white ciders and spirits, which are the drinks of choice for some of the most vulnerable members of society, including young people and dependent drinkers.”

The report has led to renewed calls from campaigners for the introduction of a minimum unit price, as well as an increase in cider duty to make alcohol less affordable.

Colin continued: “It’s not right that an anomaly in the tax system means that industrial strength white cider can be sold so cheaply, fuelling some of the worst problems we have with alcohol.

“We need the Government to increase duty on super strength cider which is much lower than the duty on beer. The introduction of a minimum unit price as a targeted, evidence-based measure, would also help to reduce the harms of cheap alcohol.”

For more information, visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk