- Budget: No change in alcohol duty
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Chancellor urged to tackle cheap, strong cider in Budget
- Online help for families affected by alcohol
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- Drink drive warning
- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- Scottish Government receives European alcohol award
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- Half of alcohol being sold under 50p per unit
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Alcohol and mental health are closely linked
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- Alcohol sold at pocket money prices
- Scotland has so much to gain from reducing how much we drink
- AFS welcomes revised alcohol consumption guidelines
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- Every child has the right to grow up safe from alcohol harm
- Public health must prevail over big business
- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
- Price check reveals cheap cost of strong alcohol
- Sales increase underlines need for minimum pricing
- Time to kick alcohol out of sport
- Alcohol linked with stomach cancer
- AFS calls for compulsory health warnings on alcoholic drinks
- Are supermarkets 'responsible retailers' when it comes to alcohol?
- Scottish health charities call for excise duty rise to tackle cheap alcohol
- Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children
- New resource for people concerned about alcohol in their community
- Minimum pricing decision delayed until summer
- No completely 'safe' level of drinking
- New alcohol guidelines published
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
- Alcohol fuels ambulance assaults
- 82% of Scots agree drink driving is unacceptable
- Scotland's alcohol strategy - what next?
- Scotland leads way in evidence-based alcohol policy
- New report reveals impact of alcohol on emergency services
- AFS appoints new chief executive
- Alcohol: a global concern
- Campaigners gather in Edinburgh for global alcohol conference
- Alcohol and pregnancy don't mix
- European Court minimum pricing opinion
- Call for minimum pricing as alcohol deaths rise
- How much are we really drinking?
- Majority of Brits harmed by other people's drinking
- Interactive map of alcohol and tobacco outlets
- Help consumers make an informed choice about alcohol
- Alcohol debate must continue
- Alcohol sponsorship in Formula 1: a dangerous cocktail
- Minimum pricing case to be heard in Europe
Budget: No change in alcohol duty
It is so disappointing that once again, the Chancellor has frozen alcohol duty, leaving the most vulnerable in our society to pay the price.
In a supermarket price check carried out by Alcohol Focus Scotland, we found a 3 litre bottle of White Ace cider at 7.5% abv on sale for just £3.99. With 22.5 units of alcohol in the bottle, this works out at a ridiculously cheap 18p per unit.
High strength white ciders like White Ace and Frosty Jack’s currently have a lower duty per unit than any other alcohol product. Cider has received preferential treatment in the duty system, and this has allowed products to develop which cause a great deal of harm to people’s health. The Chancellor has announced a consultation on a new duty band targeting these drinks, but he should have taken action today.
Many people in treatment for alcohol problems, including homeless and street drinkers, consume these products, having “traded down” to cider as their drinking became heavier. The mum of a 16 year old girl who tragically died in her sleep after drinking Frosty Jack's has bravely been lobbying MPs for action on ‘pocket money’ booze.
The Chancellor also failed to reinstate the alcohol duty escalator. The escalator ensured that alcohol duty remained at 2% above inflation each year but it was scrapped in 2014. Treasury figures show that tax cuts given to the alcohol industry over the past four budgets will cost the public purse a total of £2.9 billion over five years.
Alcohol taxes can help address the low prices that fuel alcohol consumption and harm but the way they are structured and applied limits their ability to raise the price at the cheapest end of the market. That’s why it’s so important that Scotland introduces minimum unit pricing as soon as possible. Minimum pricing will set a floor price of 50p per unit, meaning that 3 litre bottle of White Ace would have to cost at least £11.25.
Taken together, increased duty on cider, minimum unit pricing and the reinstatement of the alcohol duty escalator could improve health, save lives and ease the pressure on our NHS and public services. It’s a pity the Chancellor didn’t do more in his budget to deliver these benefits.
Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland