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Supermarkets contribute to binge drinking says campaign group

[Tuesday 09 January 2007]
beer promotion poster
Do Supermarkets fuel binge dinking?
Photo: CAMRA

AS concern continues to mount over the economic impact that the major supermarket chains are having on our region's market towns, a new survey is claiming they could also be having a disastrous social impact.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling for a stop to irresponsible alcohol promotion as supermarkets sell lager for just 5p more than a pint of bottled water.

Alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour are increasing problems even in the more isolated communities of the Yorkshire Dales, yet the survey carried out by CAMRA revealed that in some supermarkets Fosters and Carlsberg was available for the equivalent of just 54p a pint - or 16p before tax.

The survey comes as Tesco pushes forwards its plans to build a new store in Skipton despite vociferous opposition from local people and Craven District Council that found itself over ruled by a government appointed inspector.

CAMRA, members of parliament, trade press and pub industry chiefs are now calling for urgent action to prevent promotions that serve to exacerbate the problem of binge drinking.

The campaign group's Chief Executive Mike Benner said: "The ridiculous practice of the major supermarkets selling below cost for alcohol to out-price each other is reckless, irresponsible and dangerous. To put it in perspective some bottled water in the supermarket costs 49p a pint and water is not subject to excise duty as alcohol is."

CAMRA insists that irresponsible drinks promotions in the off premises trade are a major cause of binge-drinking incidents, yet it is licensed premises that suffer the fallout while supermarkets continue with impunity.

Mr Benner continued: "Pubs often come under unjustified attack for encouraging binge-drinking, yet the industry has committed itself to curb irresponsible drinking and cheap alcohol promotions in recent years. This hard work is undermined by supermarkets selling enormous quantities of alcohol at prices that simply cannot be justified.

"An 18-year-old is free to take advantage of these ludicrous beer prices, walk out the supermarket door and then drink in a completely unsupervised and unsafe environment. Beer can be given by them to under-age drinkers who do not know their limits but pour premium-strength lager down their throats all night. This is in stark contrast to adults enjoying a drink in a pub which is regulated by law as to who they can and cannot serve."

"Something has to be done now to make supermarkets realise the damage these promotions can cause."

  • MP John Grogan of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group has tabled an Early Day Motion urging supermarkets and off-licenses to act to end irresponsible drinks promotions, and not to use alcohol as a loss leader on their premises. CAMRA is urging consumers to lobby their MP to sign Early Day Motion 495 and make supermarkets take their social responsibilities more seriously. 41 MP's have signed the motion so far.

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