Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland psychiatrists in drink price call

Drink on shelves

Psychiatrists have joined in calls to make alcohol more expensive to curb harmful drinking.

It follows a Department of Health report which said alcohol abuse costs Northern Ireland up to £900m a year.

The chairman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in NI, Dr Philip McGarry, said research showed introducing a minimum price does work.

"We need to make alcohol less appealing, particularly to young people," Dr McGarry said.

"Walk into any supermarket this week and you will see World Cup offers on beer.

"Supermarkets use cheap booze to get customers through the door - minimum pricing would tackle that.

"The World Health Organisation says that increasing the price of alcohol is one of the most effective ways of curbing harmful drinking."

Dr McGarry also said that a ban on alcohol advertising and a limit to the amount of retailers supplying it would also be effective.

The UK coalition government has pledged to ban below-cost sales of alcohol in England and Wales.

The idea of a minimum price is also being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

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