Minimum alcohol price plan revealed
The minimum cost of a bottle of Chardonnay could be between £4 and £7 under fresh pricing proposals in Northern Ireland.
Laws designed to curb binge-drinking and reduce anti-social behaviour are being launched for consultation.
A six-pack of beer may cost a minimum of between £4.40 and £7.70 under the regulation, which is based on the number of units of alcohol.
It is estimated alcohol abuse costs society £900 million a year, the Department for Social Development said.
Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said: "I want to make it clear that we are in no way penalising responsible drinkers. I am though concerned about the level of alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland and in particular how heavily discounted alcohol prices contributes to the problem.
"I believe there is a strong weight of evidence for introducing minimum pricing as a further tool for tackling the harm of alcohol misuse in our society."
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said in real terms alcohol was 62% more affordable now than 30 years ago.
He added research indicated a minimum price per unit of alcohol of 40p and a ban on promotions could decrease consumption by 5.4%. This would mean health and social care costs could be cut by £13.5 million a year.
Mr McGimpsey said: "We need to take significant action now and today's consultation marks an important step in changing our unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It will not come overnight but by working in partnership and being pro-active we will make a difference."
Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, which represents the trade, said: "We welcome the launch of the consultation on a minimum price for alcohol and hope that this is the first step in the process of bringing about effective legislation on the issue in Northern Ireland."