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Alcohol Taxation Review – Nov 2010

Where alcohol is concerned, Governments are always on a bit of a cleft stick.  This is succinctly articulated in the recent ‘Review of Alcohol Taxation’ which states that the purpose of the review is to “tackle problem drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries”.   The solution, therefore, is to increase the duty on strong beers (over 7.5% alcohol by volume (abv)) while reducing the duty on beers of 2.8% abv or less.

 The document admits that alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing year on year.  It also admits that young drinkers may not be deterred by price increases.  This is disturbing, given that Alcohol Concern recently revealed that 36 children a day are admitted to hospital because of alcohol.  What is more, anyone who visits a pub or bar will notice that peculiar quality of beer which enables people to drink far more of it than they would of any other drink.  So is it wise to reduce the duty on low-strength beer?  Probably not.  Will this make it more accessible to children and young people?  Probably yes.

 These changes in duty won’t take effect until late next year.  Meanwhile, Christmas 2010 is approaching and all our favourite supermarkets are eager to help us get into the Christmas ‘spirit’ by engaging in what one MP (Greg Mulholland) termed an ‘unholy price war’ over alcohol sales.

 Wouldn’t it be great if Christians all around the country were to boycott alcohol this Christmas and exclude it from their shopping trolleys and dinner tables; just to prove (to themselves and others) that alcohol is not indispensible to having a good time.  It might not make much of a dent on supermarket sales figures, but it might change someone’s life.

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