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Alcohol tax 'could prevent thousands being hurt in violence every year'

Empty bottles of alcohol. Credit: PA

A small alcohol tax could cut the number of A&E visits caused by violent injury by more than 6,000 a year, research from Cardiff University suggests.

They said putting a duty of 1% above inflation on drinks sold in restaurants, shops, pubs and supermarkets could be more effective than introducing a standard minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, they noted thousands of visits to A&E could be prevented.

The additional tax revenue gained, estimated at close to £1 billion a year, would be at the Treasury's disposal, and could be used to offset the cost of alcohol-related harm to the NHS.

Reforming the current alcohol taxation system may be more effective at reducing violence-related injury than minimum unit pricing.

– Cardiff University
A general view of alcohol on the shelf at a supermarket. Credit: PA

The university team looked at data from 100 A&E departments across England and Wales between 2005-2012.

Accompanying data on pricing showed that lower alcohol prices were linked to more attendances in A&E - even taking into account poverty, difference in household income, spending power or time of year.

The research also found that, overall, violence related injuries were more frequent in the summer months of June to August than any other time of the year.