Call for alcohol prices to be set higher

Are alcohol prices too low in some places?
Are alcohol prices too low in some places?
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A MINIMUM price for alcohol should be introduced.

That call came from Balance, the North East alcohol office, who found that the average price for a unit of vodka in four major Sunderland supermarkets works out at just 34p per unit.

For whiskey, the price is 37p, for wine it costs 68p per unit and lager comes in at 36p a unit.

Sunderland Royal Hospital has 6,000 alcohol-related attendances each year.

Balance says introducing a minimum price will hit younger, heavier drinkers harder – while not touching the price of a pint in the community pub.

A University of Sheffield survey in 2009 showed that a minimum price of 50p per unit would cut consumption, crimes, hospital admissions and reduce the economic burden.

It also suggested that if a minimum price of 40p a unit was introduced, moderate drinkers would only spend an estimated 21p per week more on alcohol.

More than three in four North Easterners say their support for a minimum price would increase if alcohol-related crime and violence and drunk and rowdy behaviour reduced as a result.

As part of Alcohol Awareness Week, Balance is calling on the Government to follow Scotland’s lead and commit to introducing an alcohol minimum pricing bill.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Making alcohol less affordable strikes at the very heart of the problems that we face at the hands of alcohol misuse.

“Research shows us that the more alcohol consumed, the greater the damage done to our families and communities.

“It also shows that consumption levels are hugely affected by price.

 “Over the last 60 years, average alcohol consumption per person, per year has more than doubled to over 11 litres.

 “If an alcohol minimum pricing bill is good enough for Scotland, it’s certainly good enough for us. After all, here in the North East, we face many of the same problems as our neighbours.

 “We have the highest rate of alcohol- related hospital admissions in England and half of all violent crime is alcohol related.”