Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill comments on the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol in Scotland.
”Hospitality Ulster welcomes the decision by the Scottish Executive to introduce MUP on alcohol, effective today. It is a move which we have been calling for here in Northern Ireland and it is long overdue that it should be introduced here.
”This is a forward-looking and progressive measure which will undoubtedly improve health in Scotland by deterring heavy drinking of cheap alcohol and it is a measure which should be introduced to Northern Ireland.
”Research shows that 44 percent of the alcohol in Northern Ireland is consumed by just 6 percent of the population, so clearly there is an issue of heavy drinking which needs addressed. It should be remembered that the misuse of alcohol costs the NI Health Service around £900 million a year.
”It is completely unsatisfactory that the Northern Ireland Executive is still not functioning. It is now almost a year-and-a-half since the Assembly sat and it is having an impact on business. We need the Assembly to be taking decisions such as this and it is well past time that we had decisions which affect people and businesses taken.
”We have a duty to sell alcohol responsibly. Alcohol is a controlled substance, it should not be used as a commodity to drive footfall for supermarkets. By heavily discounting alcohol in supermarkets, home drinking is encouraged and it is home drinking that is generally accepted as having many more negative than positive aspects when it comes to responsible drinking.
”Hospitality Ulster’s support of MUP is not about driving footfall to the on-trade. In fact given such a high price differential between the on-trade and off-trade, due to much higher operating costs in the on-trade, it is unlikely to increase sales. Indeed there is the potential that it will lead to a slight decrease in demand.
”MUP is about encouraging responsible drinking and Hospitality Ulster is behind that.’’
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