Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa today welcomed the launch of a national consultation on the introduction of increased duty on cheap high-strength cider.
Announced at the Spring Budget, the new Alcohol Structures Consultation will sample opinion on a new band of duty targeting “white” ciders of just below 7.5% volume.
It will also consult on the impact of a potential new band for lower strength still wine to encourage the production of safer strength drinks.
The move comes after public experts warned higher strength “white” ciders cause disproportionate levels of harm and are closely associated with dependent, street and underage drinking due to their lower price.
A three litre bottle of 7.5% abv “white” cider contains 22.5 units of alcohol – more than 1.5 times the number of units Chief Medical Officers recommend for safe, low-risk weekly consumption.
Mr Dhindsa is the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) national lead on alcohol.
Commenting on the new consultation, the PCC said: “I warmly welcome this new consultation which will test public opinion on the introduction of a higher rate tax for cheap, super-strength “white” cider which typically draws young people and street drinkers because of its affordability.
“It’s clear that enforcement alone cannot reverse the damage and the demand on our public health services of problem drinking. There is a need to develop innovative, multifaceted approaches to promote sensible drinking and the idea of offering an incentive for both consumer and producer to opt for lower-strength drinks seems a good place to start.
“Dependent and vulnerable drinkers need help for their dependency and this will not change. However, anything we do to tackle the accessibility and affordability of these products will go some way to diminishing the dangers among our young people and homeless.”
The government believes that alcohol duties should be directly related to the alcoholic strength of drinks. Currently, EU law requires beer and spirit duties to be directly proportional to alcohol content. The government has already stated it would support any future changes to EU rules to allow duty on wine to rise in line with alcoholic strength.
According to Thames Reach, super strength drinks have become one of the biggest causes of premature death of homeless people in the UK. The Alcohol Health Alliance says 25% of alcohol treatment service patients in Glasgow and Edinburgh drink white cider while 45% of white cider drinkers drink it exclusively.
Mr Dhindsa said: “The government is giving the public an opportunity to voice their views on this issue and I urge everybody to take this chance and share their views.”
The consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks, closing at 11.45pm on 12 June 2017. The government will announce its next steps once the consultation has been completed and all responses have been received and considered. The consultation can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/alcohol-structures/alcohol-structures-consultation.
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Posted on Wednesday 29th March 2017