The top health official in Great Britain has called for alcohol price controls to combat the nation’s binge-drinking epidemic, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown quickly quashed the idea, the Associated Press reported March 17.
“Cheap alcohol is killing us as never before,” said Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson, who called for raising taxes by 70 cents per unit of alcohol, with minimum prices of $6.30 for a bottle of wine, $19.70 for a bottle of whiskey, and $8.50 for a six-pack of beer. “The quality of life of families and in cities and towns up and down the country is being eroded by the effects of excessive drinking.”
Donaldson’s annual Public Health report concluded that cheap alcohol, drink specials and underage drinking are contributing to skyrocketing public-health costs. Per-capita alcohol consumption has risen 40 percent in Great Britain since 1970 even as it has declined in other European nations.
“Let’s try and imagine a country where nobody is physically or sexually assaulted because of alcohol,” he said. “Let’s try and imagine a country where nobody dies in an accident caused by alcohol, where no child has to cower in the corner while its mother is beaten by a drunken partner, where the streets are welcoming for all on a Saturday night and where the streets are free of urine and vomit on a Sunday morning.”
Brown, however, said that the British government doesn’t want “the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more, or suffer, as a result of the excesses of a small minority.” Conservative Party leader David Cameron, Brown’s political rival, also said that Donaldson’s plan would penalize responsible drinkers.