Reducing the strength

Reducing the strength

As a response to street drinking, anti-social behaviour and alcohol related health harm, Portsmouth off-licences were asked by Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Constabulary to stop selling any beer or cider over 6.5% in volume, not including premium products. This is a voluntary scheme known as 'Reducing the Strength' which was introcduced in November 2013.

Over 100 Portsmouth Off Licences agreed to participate, and this has resulted in a drop in street drinking in Portsmouth since 2013 when the campaign went live. Incidents related to street drinking are down by 80% in one area of the city which was previously blighted by anti-social behaviour.

The Portsmouth Reducing The Strength campaign has been featured in Local Government Association Guidance as an example of good practice.

Why are we reducing the strength?

It is estimated that alcohol misuse costs the NHS, criminal justice service and employers £74 million annually in Portsmouth. Much of this can be linked to the availability of "super-strength" alcohol.  Portsmouth's hospital admissions due to alcohol are above the average for the UK and it is estimated that 40,000 Portsmouth residents drink above the recommended Public Health guidelines.

In some cases buying a bottle or can of super strength alcohol is cheaper than buying a bottle of water! In facet in some stores super strength cider is available for as little as 16pence per unit! This is less than half the price that health experts reccommend. There is currently  no minimum pricing in the UK and in Wales the government is suggesting a minimum price of 50 pence per unit.

What are we doing about it?

We are encouraging all local off-licences to stop selling low cost, super strength beer and cider. Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Constabulary are working hard to meet all the local shops and encourage them to support the campaign. We provide best practice training and advice for licencees around reducing the harm caused by alcohol in the city.

We need your help

Please help us to build a safer and healthier Portsmouth by supporting your local shop to reduce their strength. Whenever you see the green logo in a shop window, it means that the shop is supporting the campaign by not selling super-strength alcohol.

Meet Greg

Greg lives in Portsmouth and supports this campaign. "I was drinking on average two to three litres of cheap cider a day and didn't think anything was wrong with that. I had just always assumed that nothing would ever happen to me so I just carried on drinking. Then I woke up one morning and started severely vomiting black liquid, it was really scary. I took myself up to A&E and was admitted to QA Hospital immediately, who told me that because of my excessive alcohol intake I had developed pancreatitis. Since being admitted to hospital, I have been sober for a year and I regularly attend weight management sessions with the Portsmouth Health Trainer service. I fully support this campaign to keep super-strength alcohol off the shelves. Unfortunately I learnt the hard way, but hopefully this campaign will prevent lots of people going through what I went through."

Find out more

To find out more about this campaign, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or view the case study on the  Local Government Association website

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