Bosses at a regional retailer have pledged their commitment to reducing alcohol-related health problems and anti-social behaviour by banning the sale of cheap, super-strength beers and ciders across Norfolk and Norwich.

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Managers at the East of England Co-op have taken the decision to end the sale of the strong alcohol brands at all of its 35 Norfolk stores.

The roll-out of the ‘reducing the strength’ campaign follows the success of a pilot in Suffolk where the sale of very low cost beer and cider with an alcohol volume of more than 6.5pc ended in September 2012.

Officials said the Co-op was the first retailer in England to take such action and it hoped to inspire other retailers to follow suit.

Roger Grosvenor, executive officer for retail for the East of England Co-op, said the products would be off all shelves by December 16.

“I am extremely pleased to announce that sales of cheap, super-strength lager and cider will stop in all our Norfolk stores. Our partnership work has shown how removing the problem at source can help reduce anti-social behaviour in the local areas where we trade. As an ethical retailer, we want to ensure all our local communities can benefit from the positive effect such action can achieve.

“We hope to encourage other retailers in the county to take similar action. Our trials in Ipswich showed that the volume of alcohol sales remained consistent and yet the number of alcohol units bought by customers dropped by 113,000. So this is not only good news for customers and communities, it’s good for business too,” he said.

The initiative was welcomed by Norfolk Police officers and officials from Healthy Norwich, the initiative led by Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Norwich City Council, Public Health and the Norfolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team.

Tracy Williams, a Norwich nurse and member of Norwich CCG, said: “We support this move by the Co-op, it sets a great example that we would like other stores to follow. Super-strength alcohol can have a serious affect on health and can do immense damage to the body, both physically and mentally.”

More than 65pc of stores in Ipswich have taken super-strength beers and ciders off their shelves over the last year and in one area of the Suffolk town, anti-social behaviour fell by 64pc after the ban.

Insp Darren Brooks, from Norfolk Police’s licensing team said: “Unfortunately high-strength alcohol tends to go to a minority of customers including some of the most vulnerable. We recognise the impact this can have on communities and welcome the action taken by the East of England Co-op to remove the problem at source and hope it will inspire other retailers to follow suit.”

Norwich off-licences and stores who wish to support the campaign can register their interest or request an information pack via the Healthy Norwich mailbox at healthynorwich@norwich.gov.uk

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