UK Raises Minimum Price of Alcohol

New prices aim to decrease binge drinking

Looks like a pack of lager is going to get much pricier in the next year for Britons. In an effort to cut back on binge drinking, Britain will introduce a minimum price for alcohol to be sold in England and Wales, Reuters reports.

The minimum price planned would be 40 pence per alcoholic unit (or one centriliter), but has not been set in stone. It's a dramatic price difference: A 20-can pack of lager sold for £10 would jump up to £17.60, or a can of hard cider sold for 87 pence would sell for £1.60. The overall price jump would be £21 to £23 more in the next year, Bloomberg says.

The goal is to target the lower-end alcohols, which would discourage pre-gaming at people's homes before a night on the town. Said Home Secretary Theresa May, people drinking at home leads to "problems in town centers."

The problem: Supermarkets won't be able to sell discounted liquors, leaving consumers with a larger bill. The plan got slammed by both supermarkets and liquor companies, which say there's no proven link between alcohol consumption and price. The liquor company Diageo said, "Rather than being a targeted intervention, it simply hits consumers hard, particularly those on low incomes." Added the chief executive of Molson Coors, "We want to work with the government to tackle alcohol misuse. We believe that extremely low prices — those sold below cost — do not build respect for our brands or alcohol."

However, Prime Minister David Cameron is cracking down on alcohol misuse, what he called a "scandal" that costs taxpayers up to £2.7 billion each year. In an emailed statement, Cameron said, "When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol... This isn’t about stopping responsible drinking, adding burdens on business or some new kind of stealth tax, it’s about fast immediate action where universal change is needed."