The pub and bar industry could see the imminent introduction of tougher laws, following the publication of four independent reviews today. Two senior government ministers have warned that the evidence was likely to result in a “far tougher approach to the alcohol industry”, with legislation on the cards. A consultation process is to be launched to assess the need for legislation. Dawn Primarolo, Public Health Minister, said: “The evidence from this series of reviews, and the hospital admissions data, clearly make this the right time to consult on a far tougher approach to the alcohol industry. “The drinks industry has a vital role to play if we are to change the country's attitudes to alcohol. “Some sections of the industry are sticking to the voluntary codes, others are blatantly ignoring them. This consultation will decide whether legally binding regulations for retailers and manufacturers to promote sensible drinking are the way forward.” Tony McNutty, the Home Office minister responsible for policing, security and community safety, said: “We now need a new set of standards and over the next few months we will work intensively with industry representatives and other interested groups to breathe new life into the system. We have also made it quite clear that if necessary we will introduce legislation to make the new standards mandatory.” The comments came as a consultation by the Department of Health suggested that alcohol misuse was costing the NHS £2.7bn per year. Interim findings from the first stage of the price and promotion review being carried out by the University of Sheffield showed evidence linking the sale of cheap alcohol to increased consumption, particularly among young people and those drinking at high risk levels. The first phase of the report said: “This leads to stronger evidence that irresponsible retail practice fuels excess drinking and hence harm to health.” The KPMG review of alcohol industry standards, which was released today, also found that voluntary agreements were not being followed and pointed to evidence of poor practice in the way alcohol was promoted. McNutty said: “For social responsibility standards in the alcohol industry to work well they should complement the law on alcohol sales, encourage people to drink more safely and be followed consistently across the country. The KPMG report tells us quite plainly that this is not happening. At best the standards are being applied in fragmented way, at worst in many places alcohol is being sold and marketed irresponsibly.” Additionally, an independent monitoring of voluntary labelling agreements showed disappointing results, with only 3% following the scheme in its entirety. The Department of Health said that the consultation proposals would mean that the current voluntary retailing code could become mandatory, resulting in a restriction on happy hours and irresponsible price based promotions. Under the proposals, changes would also be made to the way alcohol is sold, with drinks to be offered in a variety of measures and sized glasses, as well making licensees give point of sale information on units and banning them from serving alcohol to drunk customers.