British Plan: No More Super-Cheap Booze

Legislation could cost heavy drinkers hundreds per year
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 23, 2012 9:22 AM CDT
The UK is introducing a minimum charge per unit of alcohol.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Britain's heaviest drinkers could soon find themselves paying an extra $200 a year for booze. Despite resistance from his health secretary—and despite his own limited-government philosophy—David Cameron is today announcing a plan to set a minimum price of 40p, or about 63 cents, per unit of alcohol, the Guardian reports. The prime minister also plans to bar supermarkets from some bulk deals on drinks. The Guardian found that would raise the price of 20 cans of Stella Artois (the equivalent of 44 units of booze) at one store from $16 to $28.

"When beer is cheaper than water, it's just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in the pub," Cameron says. "I know this won't be universally popular. But the responsibility of being in government isn't always about doing the popular thing." His government argues that the new rules could cut crimes by 50,000 a year and reduce alcohol-related deaths by 9,000 over the next 10 years. A top police chief supports the move, but health boss Andrew Lansley wonders whether a small price hike will do much, considering club crowds are willing to pay $8 per drink.

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