Belfast Telegraph

Call for minimum alcohol pricing

Minimum pricing for alcohol in clubs and supermarkets should be introduced as soon as possible, Alex Attwood has said.

Buy one get one free, women drinking for nothing and all-you-can-swallow offers could be curbed under fresh proposals from the Social Development Minister.

Two Belfast bars are running "all you can drink" promotions. Health campaigners have expressed concern that patrons will consume too much alcohol and endanger their health or leave them vulnerable to physical and sexual harm.

Mr Attwood said: "The irresponsible sale of alcohol can create many health and social problems in our community. It is something that I want to address as quickly as possible. It is imperative that we get new laws introduced to tackle this problem."

The Stormont Executive agreed the minister's proposals, which will go for consultation after being tabled in the Assembly in the autumn.

Mr Attwood added: "I want to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in clubs, pubs and supermarkets but also, on a larger scale, I want to target those retailers who sell alcohol below cost price in order to encourage higher footfall and therefore generate sales.

"Selling alcohol at minimal prices encourages people to drink irresponsibly, with damaging knock-on effects on themselves and in society."

Head of youth services at the Forum for Action on Substance Abuse Jim Weir warned against encouraging binge drinking.

"We believe there should be clearer legislation to prevent bars doing promotions around alcohol because it encourages a drink-till-you-drop mentality," he said.

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