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The price of cocaine has dropped so dramatically in the last ten years that a line of Bolivian marching powder is now cheaper than a pint of lager or a glass of wine, the Telegraph reports.

The Home Office - using data collected by police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency - reckons that while in 1998 a gram of charlie cost an average £77, that's now down to £40, with some areas enjoying nose ajax for as little as 20 quid a gram.

Accordingly, and with a little mathematical jiggery-pokery, it can be calculated that if a gram contains 10 to 20 lines, users can get a hit for as little as £1, with the average price lying between £2 and £4. The average price of a pint of lager is £2.75, with a glass of plonk costing around £3.50.

The Tories have wasted no time in using the shock booze/coke calculation to weigh into the government. James Brokenshire, the party's shadow home affairs minister, thundered: "These startling figures show the reality of drug use in Britain. Price falls of this nature indicate that the supply of hard drugs into this country has jumped. It's a serious indictment of Labour's failure to combat drug crime and stem the flow of drugs onto our streets."

In fact, the Home Office suggests that the fall in price may be due in part to a fall in demand. A spokesman explained: "A reduction in price may be associated with increased competition or reduced demand, not just increased availability. The British Crime Survey data shows that among 16-59 year olds Class A drug use in the past year declined from 3.4 per cent in 2006/07 to 3.0 per cent in 2007/08."

Home Office figures last year indicated that "the total weight of cocaine seized actually fell by 15 per cent a year, and it has halved in five years". The Telegraph elaborates: "In 2003, 6,813 kg of cocaine was seized by police and customs officers in England and Wales. In 2006/07, it was 3,191kg. The last time cocaine seizures were smaller was 1999."

Those of you who are no longer prepared to stump £2.75 for a pint, but don't fancy cocaine as an alternative stimulant, should note that the average price of heroin has also fallen - down to 40 to 50 quid for a gram from the 1998 average of £74. ®

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