Sunderland liver disease sufferer welcomes plans for minimum price on booze

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A CHRONIC liver disease sufferer has welcomed plans for a minimum price on alcohol.

Proposals in the Government’s National Alcohol Strategy include banning the sale of multi-buy discount deals and a “zero tolerance” approach to drunken behaviour in A&E departments.

The price per unit for alcohol could be set at 40p, should legislation get the go-ahead.

Figures revealed recently showed that Sunderland has the highest rate in the for country drink-related deaths, with 36 people in the city dying in 2010.

Joanne Patterson, 41, suffers from chronic liver disease after she began drinking heavily during her teens.

The mum-of-three now relies on taking 90 tablets each week to stay alive.

Joanne, of Hendon, said: “I hope the Government’s strategy works. It is good to see that they are taking action as it really is needed.

“I think anything that helps people to reduce the amount of alcohol they are drinking is a good thing.

“More people need to know about the dangers of drinking too much and the effect it can have. I’m living proof of that.

“Price, advertising and awareness are the key things that need to be looked at. Otherwise more people will end up like me.

“Cirrhosis isn’t reversible and too many people think that it won’t happen to them. But that’s exactly what I thought.”

North East alcohol office Balance has been campaigning for a minimum price to be introduced.

The organisation said it was left disappointed when no plans for minimum pricing were outlined in last week’s Budget by Chancellor George Osborne.

Director of Balance Colin Shevils said: “We welcome the inclusion of a minimum unit price in the National Alcohol Strategy and applaud the Government’s willingness to tackle a major root cause of alcohol misuse, which is ruining lives across the North East.

“The North East has the most to gain from the introduction of a minimum unit price.

“We have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England and high rates of young people drinking. And while we have relatively low crime rates related to alcohol, it is still linked to half of violent crime and domestic abuse.

“Minimum unit price needs to be set at the right level so that it takes cheap, strong drinks bought in off-licences and supermarkets – things like white cider and own-label vodka – out of the hands of young people and harmful drinkers.”

The news has not been without its critics however.

British Retail Consortium food director Andrew Opie said: “David Cameron is seriously misguided. It’s simplistic to imagine a minimum price is some sort of silver-bullet solution to irresponsible drinking.”

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