RCoA response to HM Treasury’s consultation on alcohol structures

The RCoA has responded to the HM’s Treasury consultation on alcohol structures. Our response has been adapted from content prepared by the Alcohol Heath Alliance (AHA), of which the RCoA is a member. 

The RCoA recognises the negative economic impact caused by alcohol-related health harms and the avoidable pressures this places on secondary care services and staff.  This includes avoidable emergency admissions which can be coupled with anti-social behaviour – placing a further strain on hospital staff.  We therefore welcome any measure which can mitigate the scale of alcohol-related health harms in the UK.

In our response we support the introduction of a new still cider and perry band below 7.5% abv.  High strength ciders are the cheapest alcohol products per unit on the market and have become the ‘drink of choice’ for harmful and dependent drinkers, homeless people who drink heavily and underage drinkers. A 3 -litre bottle can contain the equivalent of 22 shots of vodka.  Cider of 7.5% ABV attracts the lowest level of duty of any alcohol product at any strength.  For example, a 500ml can of cider at this strength generates 19p of duty - less than a third of the duty on a can of beer of equivalent size and strength (69p).

The proposals also look at new bands for still and made-wines. We support the introduction of new bands for lower strength wines which could bring about a change in consumer behaviour towards lower strength products.

We urge caution however around the labelling of these products; labelling of these products as “low” alcohol wines, rather than “lower” alcohol wines, would potentially mislead consumers in believing that they are drinking lower amounts of alcohol than they are, which could result in adverse health consequences.  

View our full response here »

14 June 2017

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