LONDON, March 23 (UPI) -- The British government says it plans to raise prices on alcohol to deter binge drinking at home.
Prime Minister David Cameron said minimum pricing won't be universally popular but something must be done to change a culture in which "beer is cheaper than water," making it too easy for people to get drunk at home before they even get to the pub, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
"Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country," Cameron said. "The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear."
It would be illegal for stores in England and Wales to sell alcohol for less than 97 cents per unit.
The price increases would mean a bottle of wine could not be sold for less than $5.70, a can of beer would cost at least $1.27 and a bottle of hard liquor would cost a minimum of $16.50.
The average drinker would pay about $33 more each year. Heavy drinkers could see their alcohol costs go up by about $215 a year.
Cameron said it is estimated the price increases would result in 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 900 fewer alcohol-related deaths.
The alcohol measure would also prevent stores from offering multi-buy discounts, such as three bottles of wine for $15.