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Wines: Sales

Volume 473: debated on Friday 14 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment the Government have made of the health effects of restricting the sale of UK-produced lower alcohol wines; and if he will make a statement. (186854)

I have been asked to reply.

The recent change in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) methodology for estimating alcohol consumption (“Estimating alcohol consumption from survey data: improved method of converting volumes to units, ONS, November 2007”) has highlighted how gradual increases in alcohol levels of wine over a period of years have contributed to increased alcohol consumption in the United Kingdom.

The Department will launch a campaign in May 2008 to help consumers estimate their alcohol consumption in units and to understand why this matters for their own health.

The Government believe that industry can also play an important part in helping to moderate rising alcohol levels by providing a wider range of choices for consumers. We will continue to press the European Commission to allow European Union (EU) winemakers to have greater flexibility to produce low alcohol wine, which is prevented by current EU rules. We would wish to encourage this as a socially responsible industry action in support of the National Alcohol Strategy.