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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alcohol tax hiked to tackle binge drinking

  • Wednesday March 12 2008

Excise duty on alcohol is to rise by 6% above inflation from midnight on Sunday in an effort to curb Britain's steadily creeping boozing habit, the chancellor has revealed.

Duty on beer will rise by 4p a pint, cider by 3p a pint, wine by 14p a bottle and spirits by 55p a bottle. After that, duties will continue to rise by 2% above inflation for each of the next four years.

The rise is a huge blow for Britain's pub industry which is suffering its worst trading period in working memory. Already suffering in the wake of smoking ban laws, pub trade has been steadily losing ground to supermarkets offering deeply discounted promotions on multi-packs of beer.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: "The government is punishing all beer drinkers rather than punishing the minority of drunken hooligans.

"Its policy is fuelling Britain's binge drinking problem by driving people away from beer, out of the pub into the arms of the deep discounting supermarkets."

But the British Medical Association gave the chancellor's move a warm welcome. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said: "These tax increases may be unpopular with some members of the public but we hope that they will look at the wider issue and recognise that the UK has a real problem on its hands regarding alcohol misuse. Tough action is needed."
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