Speaking at the launch of the Labour Party’s Public Health paper, the Shadow Health Secretary unveiled a range of proposals aimed at restricting the availability of high-strength, low-cost alcohol that is “affordable to children, fuels binge drinking and does most harm to health”.
The proposals outlined in ‘Protecting Children, Empowering All: Labour’s New Approach to Public Health in the 21st Century include:
- Prohibiting or discouraging the sale of high strength cheap cider in three-litre bottles.
- Creating a new, higher duty band specifically for high-strength ciders.
- Reviewing the minimum apple juice content for cider.
- Reviewing the promotion of alcohol, particularly in relation to children, including working with sport governing bodies to look at the impact of sport sponsorship.
- Make public health a fifth licensing objective.
- Pursue calls for improved alcohol labelling at EU level, and make it compulsory to carry a visible warning about the risk of drinking during pregnancy.
Responding to Labour’s proposals, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said:
“We welcome any move to tackle the availability and promotion of cheap, strong alcohol that is placing an enormous strain on our health service and costing our economy more than £21 billion each year. The Labour Party is signalling some moves in the right direction but I hope, if elected, they will be bolder in the strongly evidence-based areas of price, marketing and availability.
“A comprehensive set of actions is urgently needed to reduce the burden of alcohol related disease and premature death in the UK. The Alcohol Health Alliance has set out an evidence-based strategy for tackling alcohol problems, which has the full support of the public health community. This includes introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol, restrictions on alcohol marketing and a lower drink drive limit.
“We are hopeful that the incoming government in May 2015, whoever that may be, will take both an evidence based and a common sense approach to alcohol policy. Taking action on the availability and promotion of cheap strong drink will save lives, ease the strain on our NHS and make our communities safer.”
Click on the link to read the AHA publication ‘Health First: An evidence-based alcohol strategy for the UK’.