Brits ditch beer and fags for wine

Britons are turning both healthy and French if forecasts from the Treasury’s official economic arbiter are to be believed.

By 2018, the nation will be smoking 9bn fewer cigarettes and drinking 1.6bn fewer pints of beer and cider than last year, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). But, dealing a blow to British traditions, an additional 856m large 250ml glasses of wine will be quaffed.

The OBR has to make assumptions about social habits in its economic forecasts to estimate future tax revenues. Even so, the scale of the national health kick it anticipates is striking.

Smokers are expected to cut back by almost a quarter, from 41.8bn to 32.8bn sticks a year, while beer and cider drinking is predicted to fall a fifth from 53.2m to 43.9m hectolitres. Wine consumption is forecast to rise from 13.9m to 16m hectolitres, and there is little change with spirits.

Overall, the nation will be sobering up drinking about 2.4bn fewer units of alcohol within six years.

Despite falling sales, tax revenues are expected to rise by £3bn to £23bn by 2018 due to scheduled above-inflation price increases. The forecasts exclude the potential impact of minimum alcohol pricing.