Government ready to get tough on drink

The government has indicated that it wants more regulation of the drinks industry after a report from consultancy firm KPMG suggested voluntary codes were not working.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo has launched a consultation on ways of changing Britain’s drinking culture after the report, commissioned by the Home Office.

It fuels speculation over possible controls on alcohol prices and raises the prospect of tougher rules on drinks packaging and promotions.

The report – officially published later today – criticises some on-trade retailers for serving people who were blatantly intoxicated and said that current voluntary codes regulating the sale and promotion of alcohol were “not fit for purpose”.

KPMG found that 43% of alcohol products failed to carry unit labeling information a decade after their voluntary introduction.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “The evidence clearly makes this the right time to consult on a far tougher approach to the alcohol industry.”

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association said more needed to be done within the current legislative framework.

Chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: “The Government's latest strategy document is simply pointing the way to higher prices for all responsible drinkers without solving the problem of alcohol misuse.

“Culture change will take time but we should start by enforcing the numerous laws we have and build on the education and information programmes acknowledged as successful by government.”