Doncaster MPs Caroline Flint and Ed Miliband have backed a Government pledge to consult on tax levels for strong cider.
General alcohol duties are to rise in line with inflation, but the Chancellor plans a separate consultation on high – strength cider.
Don Valley MP Ms Flint said: “This is a welcome move. Both Ed Miliband and I saw the evidence of the role of cheap cider, the chosen drink of many problem drinkers who were being treated at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary. I hope we can use the evidence from our hospital wards, to convince the Government that high-strength cider should have the same duty as similar-strength beer.”
Mr Miliband added: “Caroline and I wrote a forceful letter to the Chancellor after meeting specialist, staff and patients at the DRI. A three litre bottle of cider can cost as little as £3, yet contains the same alcohol as 22 shots of vodka. It is time to end the incredibly low tax on high-strength ciders.”
Both MPs met patients and saw first hand the impact alcohol has on hospital admissions during a visit to Doncaster Royal Infirmary in January. The MPs were told certain drinks – in particular three-litre bottles of strong cider which can be bought for £3 in Doncaster – caused problems.
Mr Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, said: “By meeting a number of patients I was able to see for myself the effect of cheap alcohol consumption on individuals.
“It’s important to raise awareness about the impact of alcohol on our hospitals, and on Doncaster’s communities, and look at solutions to the problem – including an increase in the price of certain products, such as large bottles of strong cider.
The visit was part of the Alcohol Health Alliance’s (AHA) ‘Day of Action’, organised by Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Anurag Agrawal.
Ms Flint said: “It is clear that excessive alcohol consumption and cheap alcohol is having a devastating impact on the lives of far too many people here in Doncaster.”