David Cameron will risk the wrath of the drinks industry and free marketeers today by announcing his government is to introduce legislation setting a minimum alcohol price of 40p a unit in England – enough to add £135 to the annual bill of a heavy drinker.
In what is regarded as the biggest public health intervention since the Labour government's smoking ban, Cameron will also ban the sale of multi-buy discount deals in supermarkets. He is aware the policy may prove deeply unpopular, but thinks it will chime with those demanding greater social order.
The alcohol strategy follows months of Whitehall infighting over the legality, effectiveness and politics of imposing a minimum price. The aim is to introduce legislation in autumn after a summer consultation, with the minimum price coming into force in 2014.