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Minimum unit price 'victory'

MEPs have urged the European Commission to include minimum unit pricing in an EU alcohol strategy.

Drinkers at tableBMA council chair Mark Porter said the European Parliament’s decision to press for an inclusion of MUP (minimum unit pricing) was a victory following successive failures to introduce such a policy in UK.

Devolved nation administrations are in favour of MUP. However, the Westminster Government has been stalling on the issue.

He said: ‘With the costs of alcohol-related harm estimated at £20bn in England alone, of which £2bn is on healthcare, it is positive to see that MEPs have taken on-board BMA concerns with the impact of alcohol misuse and recognised the need for urgent action.

‘The BMA has been clear that we need to see the introduction of a MUP to end the deep discounting of alcohol. 

‘We know that MUP reduces alcohol-related harm among the heaviest and youngest drinkers while leaving those who drink responsibly largely unaffected.’

He added: ‘Despite this, successive Governments have year-on-year failed to take decisive action in England with numerous u-turns on introducing MUP. 

‘Hopefully, this decision will start to put an end to the political game-playing with the public’s health.’ 

The European Parliament’s committee for environment, public health and food safety approved a resolution to begin work on introducing a new alcohol strategy on 31 March.

In replacing the last alcohol strategy, which was launched in 2006, the new strategy could be in place by next year with measures addressing alcohol labelling and marketing included alongside MUP.

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