Medics' report 'takes no account of falling consumption' – WSTA

Drinks industry leaders have hit out at a report in medical journal The Lancet which has called for a 50p per unit minimum price and tougher regulation of marketing.

The report by leading liver specialists said that failure to take action could cost 250,000 lives through alcohol-related disease over the next 20 years.

The report also accused the government of becoming "too close" to the drinks industry through its responsibility deal.

Wine & Spirit Trade Association spokesman Gavin Partington said: "It is regrettable that the various projections take no account of the most recent government data showing a continued fall in consumption of alcohol and a decline in the number of deaths from alcohol-related illnesses.

"The authors ignore the fact that alcohol taxes and prices are among the highest in Europe in contrast to France, a country with low prices yet cited as a nation having achieved a reduction in liver-related deaths.

"The drinks industry is rightly playing a constructive role in discussions with other stakeholders as part of the government's public health responsibility deal.

"We are committed to playing our part in addressing the issues associated with alcohol misuse."

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "Latest government statistics show alcohol related deaths actually fell in the UK last year and we want to see that continue. That's why the industry puts its energies into funding health education campaigns and working with people who are serious about reducing alcohol misuse in the UK.

"Creating doomsday scenarios is not in anyone's best interests, least of all the responsible majority of people who enjoy alcohol in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle."