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GOVERNMENT TARGETS WAR ON CHEAP BOOZE; Alcohol 'loss leaders' to be banned.

Byline: PAT FLANAGAN

TIME is being called on cheap booze as the Government is bringing in strict laws to ban the below-cost selling of alcohol.

The party is well and truly over for drinkers as big increases in excise duties on beer, wine and spirits in today's Budget will make booze even more expensive.

The National Youth Council of Ireland welcomed the new laws and director Mary Cunningham said: "This is a positive step in the right direction to stop retailers from using price promotions and cut-price deals to sell alcoholic products.

"Extensive research has shown an increase in price greatly reduces alcohol consumption and in turn alcohol-related harm."

In recent years supermarkets have used drink as "loss leaders" at below cost to lure shoppers but this leads to binge-drinking and has been blamed for the rise in anti-social behaviour.

The cost of drink has generally fallen in recent years and this has been put down to the abolition of the Groceries Act which prevented below-cost selling.

Liberalisation of the licensing laws has also meant alcohol is available in almost every corner shop as well as service stations.

Some supermarket chains are now offering cans of lager for less than EUR1 while garages have signs outside promoting the sale of three bottles of wine for less thanEUR20.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has confirmed tough new regulations are on the way.

At present almost any retailer can obtain a beer and wine licence and figures show that between 2001 and 2007 there has been an increase of almost 70 per cent in the number of offlicences and shops selling alcohol.

During the same period the price of alcohol in big chain stores has been falling with a bottle of beer in some outlets going for as 75c - cheaper than a bottle of water.

The low cost of alcohol has made it readily available to teenagers and even children, campaigners claim.

Ms Cunningham of NYCI added: "Young people are particularly price sensitive so these measures should serve to protect youth and help combat alcoholrelated harm.

"The impact of alcohol is much more acute for young people and can have long-term health consequences.

"Those as young as 12 have drunk alcohol and the impact on their health and well-being is of major concern.

"In addition, risky drinking at a younger age has the potential to cause brain damage and creates dependency." Irish Mirror Comment: Page 10

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 7, 2009
Words:418
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