A TOP North East liver specialist is urging supermarkets to stop selling cut-price drink to shoppers.
The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust consultant, Dr Chris Record, believes alcohol is being sold at a “ridiculous” price.
Dr Record said: “Alcohol consumption in the UK has been rising dramatically. You can get your recommended daily allowance of alcohol for the same price of a bag of crisps. It’s ridiculous.
“Pricing is an issue that must be addressed. People can currently buy one unit of alcohol for approximately 11p, which is far too low. I feel it should be priced at about 50p per unit.
“The affordability of alcohol goes hand in hand with increases in consumption.
“More and more I’m seeing young patients come in for liver treatment and more people under 40 are dying from alcohol-related issues.”
Three litres of cider containing 22.5 units (sufficient to kill a child) can be purchased for around £3, which is well within a youngster’s pocket money range.
Recent statistics from the Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO) revealed there are more than 115,000 alcohol-related deaths in the North East every year and half a million people on Tyneside admit to binge-drinking.
Dr Record added: “Supermarkets are making a fortune from cheap alcohol, which isn’t right as it’s badly affecting the nation’s health.”
And the specialist said he would also like to see the end to cut-price drink promotions and some limitation of hours.
“At the moment supermarkets can sell alcohol for 24 hours a day,” he explained. “This is making alcohol way too readily available and it should not be allowed.”
A spokesman from Tesco said: “It is a 24-hour society and many people like taxi drivers and nurses work shifts and, therefore, shop at our supermarkets through the night. By selling alcohol 24 hours a day we are allowing people to do their weekly shop at the most convenient time to them.”
A spokesperson for ASDA added: “We are committed to offering the best prices for customers across all of the store. Special offers are very important to customers – particularly during this recession.
“For the majority of our customers who drink in moderation, low prices and deals are vital in the credit crunch regardless of when they choose to shop.
“However, we do take our role as a responsible retailer very seriously.
“We’re working hard to combat under-age sales through our industry-leading Challenge 25 scheme.”
Last week, the largest public health debate to be held in the region was launched by Balance, the North East alcohol office, to assess the impact of drink on the region. The debate aims to provide a comprehensive study of the attitudes towards, and relationships with, alcohol by encouraging members of the public to fill in a questionnaire.
Page 3 - Get involved in the debate >>
Get involved in the debate
THE North East Big Drink Debate questionnaire is available online, as well as being distributed on high streets across the region over the next six weeks.
Drinkers and non-drinkers alike are being asked to take part in the survey, which is supported by The Journal. The questionnaire is anonymous and wants to hear from those who do and do not drink.