Health & Lifestyle

Alcohol tax: Experts demand booze crackdown and name for sugar levy-esque measure

Beer, wine and spirits may cost a little much more and be offered with additional warning labels below new proposals put ahead by consultants and politicians.

Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) at this time known as for an unbiased overview into the harms of alcohol. 

It desires ministers to be given a list of ‘evidence-based’ coverage interventions designed to sort out Britain’s boozing tradition.

An analogous Government-commissioned overview on tobacco this summer time gave a string of radical suggestions — together with banning at this time’s youngsters from ever having the ability to purchase cigarettes. Critics branded it ‘nanny-statism on steroids’.

In an open letter to Rishi Sunak, the coalition of charities, MPs and Lords hinted that it will again additional taxes on alcohol and decreased promoting for booze. 

They stated: ‘There is robust proof behind the effectiveness of measures to scale back the affordability, promotion and availability of alcohol, comparable to alcohol taxes and a complete restriction of alcohol promoting.’ 

AHAUK can be calling for a ‘outstanding well being warning’ and calorie data to be caught on beer, wine and spirit packaging.

Booze already comes with some labels, comparable to being pregnant warnings, however doesn’t at present have any dietary tips. 

Alcohol could cost more and come with more warning labels under new proposals put forward by experts and politicians

Alcohol may price extra and include extra warning labels below new proposals put ahead by consultants and politicians

Under a crackdown introduced in 2011, the UK alcohol industry committed to ensure 80 per cent of bottles and cans are labelled with how many units are in the drink, what the national guidelines are, and pregnancy warnings

Under a crackdown launched in 2011, the UK alcohol business dedicated to make sure 80 per cent of bottles and cans are labelled with what number of models are within the drink, what the nationwide tips are, and being pregnant warnings

Are ‘please drink responsibly’ labels pointless? 

Sticking ‘please drink responsibly’ messages on alcohol could not assist dangerous drinkers reduce down, analysis suggests.

Heavy drinkers see the labels as a ‘ploy by the business’ to seem prefer it cares about customers’ well being. 

Oxfords Brookes University consultants say it means the labels, launched greater than a decade in the past, are ‘unlikely to be efficient’.

Instead, messages have to be extra ‘personally related to customers’, scientists concluded.

The new research was printed within the British Journal of Health Psychology.

Researchers quizzed 20 drinkers, aged from their 20s to their 60s, about their views on the warnings and the way they affect boozing. The majority had been classed as dangerous drinkers, which means they’re within the high 5 per cent of drinkers nationally.

Participants had been proven three forms of labels, with one set selling ‘accountable ingesting’, in step with most present packaging.

Another set included constructive well being messages, for instance saying ‘ingesting much less reduces danger’. 

And a 3rd had destructive well being messages, suggesting ingesting extra will increase the hazards.

They had been all requested for his or her opinions on all three and the way they could have an effect on their ingesting behaviour. 

Results confirmed that dangerous drinkers didn’t reply positively to any of the warnings.

The staff stated it’s because they have a tendency to view themselves as accountable of their consumption. 

This meant they didn’t see the information on labels as being related to themselves, the researchers stated. 

Adopting the strikes would assist scale back downside ingesting, which prices Britain within the area of £27billion yearly, the group stated.

Such insurance policies would additionally maintain drinkers knowledgeable of how a lot they’re consuming and the way fattening it may be, AHAUK claimed. 

But campaigners slammed the ‘nannying’ calls for, arguing any tax rise can be pointless as a result of Brits already pay greater than ‘most of their European counterparts’.

In the UK, adults at present pay 19p on each litre of beer below 7.5 per cent in energy and 25p on something stronger. 

A bottle of wine from 5 to fifteen per cent alcohol carries almost £3 in responsibility tax.

Alcohol responsibility often rises with inflation however was attributable to be frozen in February 2023 earlier than Jeremy Hunt U-turned on Kwasi Kwarteng’s coverage final month.

Britons are urged to not drink greater than 14 models every week frequently — the equal of six pints of lager or 10 small glasses of wine.

American males are suggested to not drink greater than the equal of 14 small cans of beer every week, whereas girls ought to stick with not more than seven small glasses of wine. 

Drinking an excessive amount of over the long-term will increase the chance of a list of sicknesses, together with coronary heart illness, stroke, liver illness and most cancers. 

Under a crackdown launched in 2011, the UK alcohol business dedicated to make sure 80 per cent of bottles and cans are labelled with accountability warnings.

This contains stating what number of models are in each drink, what nationwide tips are, and being pregnant warnings. It additionally contains the generic ‘please drink responsibly’ messaging.

But the labelling is just not necessary and an AHAUK report in June discovered solely 3 per cent of alcohol merchandise include a basic well being warning.

Research printed final week prompt messages on bottles could not truly assist dangerous drinkers reduce down.

Today’s letter to the Prime Minister was signed by MPs together with Labour’s Dan Carden, chair of the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice all-party parliamentary group (APPG), and Christian Wakeford, who final 12 months defected from the Tories to Labour.

It was additionally signed by consultants like Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of Alcohol Health Alliance UK, and Dr Tony Rao, guide psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

They stated downside ingesting is inflicting ‘hurt throughout the UK, beneath which cover many private tragedies’.

Alcohol is the main danger issue demise in under-50s and alcohol deaths rose to an all-time excessive throughout the Covid pandemic. 

The letter stated: ‘In complete, alcohol prices our society at the very least £27billion yearly, of which lower than half is offset by tax income on alcohol. 

‘This contains direct prices such because the £11.4billion incurred by alcohol-related crime, in addition to oblique prices comparable to contributing to obese and weight problems.’

It didn’t specify how a lot alcohol taxes ought to rise by or what the discount in promoting would appear like. 

The group additionally didn’t say whether or not the tax can be a rise of present responsibility taxes or a brand new levy just like the one positioned on sugary merchandise.

That levy elevated the worth of drinks with greater than 8g of sugar per 100ml by 24p per litre.

AHAUK — which represents 60 organisations working collectively to scale back the hurt attributable to alcohol — additionally hopes its requires higher labelling might be applied in ‘a brand new nationwide Alcohol Strategy’.

All alcohol merchandise ought to embrace being pregnant, drink-driving, age and well being warnings, in response to the group.

And they need to additionally show substances and vitamin data in addition to Chief Medical Officers’ tips on low-risk consumption, they are saying.

But campaigners stated the proposals to extend tax would hit the poorest households most and decreasing promoting and bolstering warnings are ‘nonsense’.

Daniel Pryor, head of analysis on the Adam Smith Institute thinktank, informed MailOnline: ‘We tax booze to pay for the social prices of ingesting like delinquent behaviour. 

‘But present levies comfortably cowl these prices and British drinkers fork out more cash to the taxman than most of their European counterparts.’

He added: ‘More advert ban nonsense misunderstands how advertising works — it does not brainwash us into having one other pint, it simply encourages us in the direction of one model slightly than one other. 

‘And while smart labelling on issues like energy will help inform drinkers, it runs the chance of being hijacked by temperance campaigners to advertise unscientific scare tales.’

Christopher Snowdon, head of way of life economics on the Institute of Economic Affairs, stated the Government’s U-turn on freezing alcohol responsibility has ‘inspired the temperance foyer to push for its traditional seize bag of puritanical insurance policies’.

He informed MailOnline: ‘With a 3rd of pubs anticipating to go bust by subsequent 12 months, the federal government can be mad to pile additional taxes on drinkers. 

‘The UK already has the fifth highest tax on wine in Europe, the fifth highest tax on beer and the sixth highest tax on spirits. 

‘If excessive taxes had been the important thing to accountable ingesting, we might be one of the crucial sober nations on Earth.’

John O’Connell, chief govt of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, stated: ‘With prices rising, Brits can’t be anticipated to pay much more tax on the worth of a pint.

‘Further hikes in booze duties would solely hammer the households who’re hardest up, whereas doing little to dissuade downside drinkers.

‘The chancellor ought to stand with the thousands and thousands of taxpayers who benefit from the odd tipple and honour the earlier promise to freeze and simplify alcohol duties.’


One screening instrument used extensively by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the 10-question take a look at is taken into account to be the gold customary in serving to to find out if somebody has alcohol abuse issues.

The take a look at has been reproduced right here with permission from the WHO.

To full it, reply every query and observe down the corresponding rating.


0-7: You are throughout the smart ingesting vary and have a low danger of alcohol-related issues.

Over 8: Indicate dangerous or hazardous ingesting.

8-15: Medium degree of danger. Drinking at your present degree places you prone to creating issues along with your well being and life usually, comparable to work and relationships. Consider reducing down (see under for ideas).

16-19: Higher danger of problems from alcohol. Cutting again by yourself could also be troublesome at this degree, as you might be dependent, so you might want skilled assist out of your GP and/or a counsellor.

20 and over: Possible dependence. Your ingesting is already inflicting you issues, and you can very nicely be dependent. You ought to positively contemplate stopping steadily or at the very least scale back your ingesting. You ought to search skilled assist to determine the extent of your dependence and the most secure strategy to withdraw from alcohol.

Severe dependence might have medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is as a result of chance of extreme alcohol withdrawal signs within the first 48 hours needing specialist remedy.

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