Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Minimum alcohol pricing 'more effective' than ban on bulk buying

Photo: PA

Introducing a minimum price on alcohol would be 50 times more effective at saving lives than the ban on deep discounting, according to research.

Slapping a minimum price on a pint would have a much greater effect on cutting alcohol-related alcohol admissions and deaths, particularly among harmful drinkers, scientists said.

Alcohol is 45% more affordable than it was in 1980. Credit: PA

Plans to introduce a minimum price on alcohol have been around for a while - proposals to charge 40-50p per unit were rejected in 2013.

So far a ban on below cost selling in England and Wales was brought in on April 6, but that only extends to drinks sold so cheaply their price is below the cost of tax, duty and VAT.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield compared the effects of the two policies on public health using a mathematical model alongside General Lifestyle Survey data to estimate changes in alcohol consumption, spending, and related health harms among adults.

Alcohol costs the UK £21bn per year in healthcare, crime and lost productivity. Credit: REUTERS/Darren Staples

n their findings, published by bmj.com, they estimated that below cost selling would increase the price of just 0.7% of alcohol units sold in England, whereas a minimum unit pricing of 45p would increase the price of 23.2% of units sold.

They estimated that below cost selling would reduce harmful drinkers' mean annual consumption by just 0.08%, or around three units per year, compared with 3.7% or 137 units a year for a 45p minimum unit price - an approximately 45 times greater effect.

Researchers also estimated the ban would be able to save 14 deaths and 500 hospital admissions annually.

However, a 45p minimum per unit would save 624 lives and cut hospital admissions by 23,700.

Minimum pricing may put an end to deals like this. Credit: PA

The government remained coy about its plans to reduce the UK's alcohol consumption, and said it was working with the drinks industry to promote "responsible drinking".

Department of Health spokeswoman said:

Alcohol-fuelled harm costs society £21 billion a year and we are determined to reduce this burden to taxpayers. We are taking action to tackle cheap and harmful alcohol such as banning the lowest priced drinks.

We are working with industry to promote responsible drinking, and are already making headway by removing a billion units from the market over three years.

– Department of Health spokeswoman