BREWERS and beer sellers in York have reacted angrily to a new report from a group of doctors which calls for draconian new measures in a bid to end alcohol abuse.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, a group representing GPs, surgeons and A&E doctors, is urging ministers to considers a raft of measures including hard-hitting health warnings on cans and bottles, similar to those on cigarette packets.

The group also called for a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship, restricting the times of alcohol sales in shops and increasing the price of certain high-strength products.

Craig Lee, owner of the award-winning Rudgate Brewery at Tockwith, said the alliance was wrong to target the whole drinks industry.

“Beer always bears the brunt of any alcohol issues,” he said. “On the news, you always see people behind a bar pulling pints but it’s actually the strong spirits and stupid ciders which are the problem.”

He said: “People are getting smashed at home before they go out. People shouldn’t be able to go to a supermarket and get a bottle of vodka for £8.99.”

John Pitts, manager of the Whisky Shop in Coppergate, said there was an ongoing battle with supermarkets selling alcohol cheaply.

He said: “We are a fairly large chain and have had to have a number of price hikes in recent years but it would be disappointing to see another unnecessary hike.

“It would make people think more about what they would buy. People have been willing to spend more in recent years but this would counteract that.”

Ian Loftus, manager of the House Of Trembling Madness in Stonegate, said: “We do have an alcohol consumption problem in the UK and it does need to be addressed.

“A media campaign on drink problems would be far more effective than printing on bottles. Britain is famous for producing some of the finest drinks in the world and we need to continue to advertise and do sponsorship deals in order to export these products. The current price of sterling makes this market one of Britain’s strongest.”

Beer duty freeze call

A NORTH Yorkshire MP has called on the Chancellor to support the brewing and pub industry by freezing beer duty in this month’s Budget.

Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, joined the British Beer & Pub Association, the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society for Independent Brewers to deliver a “message in a barrel” made by North Yorkshire craft cooper Jonathan Manby to the Treasury calling for the freeze.

Mr Smith’s constituency includes the Black Sheep brewery in Masham.