Alcohol tax hike is needed

MP Mary Glindon.
MP Mary Glindon.

My constituent Joanne Good lost her 16-year-old daughter Megan Craig-Wilkinson on a New Year’s Day.

Megan hoped to become a history teacher, but sadly died from dry drowning after drinking half a three litre bottle of high strength white cider at a friend’s house.

The cider was 7.5 per cent and cost just £3.50 for 22 vodka equivalents, and too little tax.

Most of us like a drink, but there must be limits. When there were more pubs, publicans could keep an eye on problem drinkers. Now they can get a massive hit for very little money.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is concerned about homeless people who drown their sorrows and quickly stack up health problems.

Four-fifths of deaths in homeless hostels are due to high strength cider and beer. They are drinks of choice that require specialist treatment for children and for adults drinking at harmful levels.

Balance rightly urges the government to increase taxes on strong white cider in next week’s budget, or ban it altogether as a health hazard.

This week I used my question to the Prime Minister to raise Megan’s case. I am pleased she extended the sympathies to Megan’s family and highlighted great work by charities and others in schools to highlight the dangers and harms of problem drinking.

But Megan’s tragic death shows her government is failing on taxes on drinks being sold at pocket money prices, let alone the possibility of banning such dangerous products.