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Conservatives plan to treble tax on alcopops

LONDON - The Conservative Party has said that it plans to increase tax significantly on problem drinks such as alcopops and super-strength beer and cider, if it wins the next election.

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The tax on alcopops, such as Bacardi Breezers and Smirnoff Ice, would treble under the plans. Higher taxes would also be imposed on super-strength beer and cider such as Tennents Super, Carlsberg Special Brew and Diamond White.

The proposed hike would add 54p to the £2.50 price of a bottle of Bacardi Breezer; the price of cans of Carlsberg Special Brew and Tennents Super would rise by 34p.

The Conservatives stressed that taxes on wines, spirits and most beer and cider would be unaffected by the proposals.

George Osbourne, shadow chancellor, said: "This package does not hit the vast majority of law-abiding, responsible drinkers. We believe binge drinking should not be used as an excuse for yet more stealth taxes."

The proposal is part of the Tories' plans to tackle binge drinking and anti-social behaviour and comes ahead of next week's Budget, in which Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to raise alcohol taxes.

Labour challenged the Conservatives' proposal, saying that the Treasury advice was that there was no provision under European law for a separate tax on alcopops. However, the Tories said that their legal advice was that there was not a problem with it.

Last month, a number of Tesco stores and other chains in London cleared their shelves of super-strength alcohol, including Carlsberg Special Brew, Tennent's Extra and Diamond White, in a move to help stop street drinking and associated problems.

Tesco removed the drinks from its stores in Marylebone, Victoria and Pimlico, as part of a Westminster City Council initiative to tackle street drinking.

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