By Tony Grew - 19th July 2012
A committee of MPs has welcomed plans for a minimum price for alcohol, but warned is must be monitored to assess whether it is effective.
The Health Committee's report into the Government's alcohol strategy said "striking the right balance on alcohol consumption is not straight forward".
Committee chair Stephen Dorrell said:
"The Committee supports the decision to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol, but the Government needs to recognise that setting the price is not a one-off event.
"A transparent process must be put in place in order to ensure that the price level is evidence-based and is monitored over time to assess its effectiveness.
"We also recommend that there should be a 'sunset clause' on the implementation of a minimum price so that it only remains in place if it is shown to be effective in reducing harmful drinking."
Health Minister Anne Milton said a mimumum price must be "based on evidence".
"Alcohol and peoples consumption of it is sensitive to a number of things and price is most definitely one of them."
The British Retail Consortium has warned that a minimum price is not the "silver bullet solution to irresponsible drinking".
Director of Food and Consumer Policy Andrew Opie said:
"Irresponsible drinking has cultural causes and retailers have been hugely engaged in information and education to change attitudes to drinking.
"It's a myth to suggest that supermarkets are the problem or that a pub is somehow a safer drinking environment. Effectively, a minimum price is a tax on responsible drinkers."