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

Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

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

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

Writing online in the journal Injury Prevention, experts say thousands of visits to A&E in England and Wales every year could be stopped. But they also say cutting the inequalities between the rich and poor could have a dramatic effect.

The team looked at data for adults who had visited 100 A&E departments across Wales and England between 2005 and 2012.

In that time, nearly 300,000 visits were made to the departments for injuries caused by violence. Three-quarters of those treated were men aged 18 to 30.

Accompanying data on pricing showed that lower alcohol prices both in shops, bars and restaurants were linked to more attendances at A&E.

This held true even after taking into account of poverty, differences in household income, spending power and time of year.

The authors say a 1% rise in tax could save more than 6,000 visits every year, although they said poverty had an even stronger link.

A 1% drop in poverty and a slight fall in the difference between those at the top of the income scale and those at the bottom could result in 18,000 fewer visits for violence-induced injuries.