Minister looks to target cheap alcohol in supermarkets amid 'concerning' levels of harmful drinking

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CHEAP alcohol in supermarkets could become more expensive as part of a bid to tackle “concerning” levels of harmful drinking, the Health Minister has indicated.

Deputy Tom Binet said he hoped to find a way to target cheap alcohol sales in shops, but only if this did not affect the hospitality sector.

Deputy Binet told the Health and Social Services Scrutiny Panel that a group had been formed to examine the issue.

The minister also admitted to the panel that he had not yet read the Substance Use Strategy which was published last year.

Deputy Binet said: “We’re going to have to introduce something that raises the price of very cheap alcohol in supermarkets and doesn’t do that in restaurants.”

Government officers were continuing to work on the Substance Use Strategy, deputy director of public health Grace Norman told the panel.

She added that they had come up with three areas to focus on – domestic violence, addiction and targeting the most harmful levels of alcohol consumption.

Price had a huge impact on consumption, she explained, adding that drinking “at home in high quantities” was “the type of consumption that we’re most concerned about”.

She added that when drinking at home, it was easy for Islanders to drink more without realising the consequences, adding: “Actually, it’s the medium-level drinking consistently that is having the most considerable harm.”

Asked about the impact on pregnant women – and if the department needed to target pregnant people specifically – she explained: “Pregnant women drink because society drinks, and pregnant women are part of society.” This meant that society as a whole should move towards “a healthier drinking culture”, she said.

Last year, OECD data placed Jersey’s population among the very heaviest drinkers in Europe – with consumption in 2022 on average at 12 litres of alcohol.

Jersey ranked second among developed nations, with only Latvia drinking more, at 12.9 litres in 2019.

The report also showed that a quarter of Islanders drank at “harmful” levels.

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