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Minimum unit price big boost to drink firms

Why are so many people in favour of the absurd concept of minimum pricing for alcohol?

Booze costs the local economy a staggering £900m a year and the main effect of minimum pricing will be to increase the profits of drink producers.

The Assembly has no power to increase duty, but perhaps it could consider a tin tax or a bottle tax in the same way as it introduced a tax on plastic bags. Such a measure would leave our pubs largely untouched but would hit off-licence purchases. Something must be done to at least recoup some of the £75m a month that's going down the pan.

And what do local taxpayers get for this largesse? There are about 6,000 attacks a year on our hospital staff; increasing numbers of people are linked to alcohol related diseases; and in 2007 it was estimated that four in 10 of our hospital beds were occupied by drinkers or their victims. Hardly value for money, is it?

In a Radio 4 interview in 2013, Dr Ian Gilmore of the BMA quoted the finding by Professor Alan Nutt that alcohol is the leading cause of damage to the individual and society. Anyone who doubts that does not read the news reports in this newspaper.

A further cause for concern is that the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen. Perhaps even so-called moderate drinkers should pay heed to that.

JOHN GILMORE

Belfast

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