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Page last updated at 09:09 GMT, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Drink price proposals 'will have no impact whatsoever'

The head of a major alcohol awareness organisation has said that government proposals to set minimum prices in England and Wales on beer and spirits in shops become more expensive "will have no impact whatsoever on the vast majority of cheap drinks sold, for example, in supermarket".

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, told Today presenter James Naughtie that the move was "a step in the right direction...but an extremely small step".

And he added: "I'm afraid it is window-dressing at the moment but at least if it shows the government accepts that cheap drink is the main driver of the health harm we're seeing then perhaps well manage to ease it up in the right direction where it might make a practical difference."

Gavin Partington, from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said that the proposals constituted "a pragmatic solution which addresses some of the concerns about discount alcohol being sold in various parts of the industry, but does so in a way a way which doesn't adversely affect the huge majority of drinkers who actually enjoy a drink in moderation".

And he insisted that the new rules "will indeed stop retailers anywhere from selling alcohol below the level of duty plus VAT".

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