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Trade reaction to Cameron's binge drinking statement

Published:  15 February, 2012

The Prime Minister's vow to ramp up the fight against binge drinking has sparked a mixed reaction from trade bodies.

Harpers is compiling a rolling update on the drinks industry's take on David Cameron's comments.

Check back throughout the day for the latest information.

3.40pm: David Wilson, BBPA director of public affairs, said: "We agree that we all need to play our part in ensuring that alcohol is enjoyed in a responsible and sociable way, but we must be careful to avoid policies that penalise consumers, shuts pubs, and put at risk the jobs of the one million people who work in the beer and pub sector.

"The government should avoid measures that penalise the vast majority who enjoy alcohol sensibly. We need targeted measures to promote greater consumer awareness, and aimed at the minority who misuse alcohol.  The industry is playing a key part in this, and partnerships will deliver the best results."

"Pubs have faced huge tax rises and extra red tape in recent years, with more in the pipeline, yet the drinks industry already contributes £16 billion taxes, in duty plus VAT, to the Treasury.

"On tax policy, the government could help, with tax policies that encourage lower-strength drinks like beer."

2.20pm: WSTA interim chief executive, Gavin Partington, said: "Minimum unit pricing is a blunt tool which would both fail to address the problem of alcohol misuse and punish the vast majority of responsible consumers. As government ministers acknowledge, it is also probably illegal."

"The drinks industry is committed to helping the government tackle alcohol misuse, alongside other stakeholders. This is why we are working hard through the Public Health Responsibility Deal on a range of initiatives to promote responsible drinking.

"These include the expansion of Community Alcohol Partnerships across the UK and a national campaign by retailers to raise consumer awareness about the units of alcohol in their favourite drinks."

1pm: Chris Sorek, chief executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: "Our research shows that 20% of 18-24 year olds show no signs of regret about their actions when drunk."

"Alcohol misuse by a minority can blight relationships, families and communities.

"We believe that by working together with the government, public health professionals and the drinks industry, we can help change our nation's drinking behaviour."

12.30pm: Chief executive of the Portman Group, Henry Ashworth, said the Prime Minister was "absolutely right to highlight the behaviour of the reckless minority who spoil the responsible majority's enjoyment of a sociable drink".

"As producers, we are determined to be effective partners in tackling public drunkenness, which is an embarrassment to us all, and to encourage people to drink responsibly."

11.50am: Alcohol Concern said it "warmly welcomes the fact that the Prime Minister is highlighting the terrible cost to society of our alcohol culture".

Chief executive Stuart Appleby said: "We choose to ignore the costs of alcohol; it's part of our culture, but there's a price to pay and it's a high price. As a nation we need to decide whether that price is too high- couldn't we be spending £2.7 billion on other things?

"The forthcoming Alcohol Strategy gives us the opportunity to do something about this- let's not waste it."