MPs criticise drinks industry role in government health policy
The cross-party Health Select Committee has urged the government to rethink its alcohol strategy. In particular the committee questioned the role of the drinks industry in determining health policy. In its Report, Government’s Alcohol Strategy, MPs recommended a possible tightening of alcohol advertising rules and a ban on drinks companies sponsoring sporting events.
There are currently 7,000 preventable alcohol-related deaths each year and over one million people are admitted to hospital each year with conditions linked in some way to alcohol.
The committee also supported a new minimum pricing policy to set the selling price of alcohol at 50 pence per unit.
Easington MP Grahame Morris, a member of the Health Select Committee, said:
“The drinks industry is a powerful lobby and must not be permitted to influence government policy unduly, as it does at the moment. It was wrong for Ministers to invite the industry into the policy-making process.
“We have identified some of key issues that Government, the drinks industry and society as a whole need to address if we are to reduce preventable alcohol-related deaths.
“There is some evidence about the effectiveness of minimum pricing which has been applied in Scotland which I feel the government should consider carefully.
“Cut-price alcohol in supermarkets also contributes to the closure of pubs and clubs, causing a real change in our social norms as more and more people drink at own home.
“There is good evidence from France that restricting alcohol advertising in cinemas and sporting events can have a beneficial impact on public health which the committee felt merits further consideration by the newly formed Public Health England.”
The committee also deemed the Government’s current alcohol strategy to be too focused on addressing anti-social aspects of alcohol misuse, overshadowing other serious health issues. MPs also called for more transparent objectives in order that the success of government policy could be more easily determined and analysed in future. The committee called for Public Health England to take a leading role in developing key objectives and strategies across the country