Should minimum alcohol prices be introduced?

The proposed minimum alcohol price would substantially curtail many supermarket drinks deals

New pricing scheme could be more effective

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have stated that introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol would be more effective than the current government policy.

The results show that a minimum price of 45p to 50p per unit of alcohol could save more lives then the current ban on low cost selling, which stops retailers from selling alcohol below the cost of duty and VAT. The current scheme is estimated to save 14 lives and 500 hospital admissions each year.

However, if a new initiative featuring minimum alcohol prices were to be adopted, this could potentially save 624 lives and 23,700 hospital admissions per year, with most of the harm reduction occurring in the 5.3% of people who are harmful drinkers. Using a minimum price would mean that alcohol consumption would be slashed by approximately 3.7%, or 137 units per year, which tops the current figure of 0.08%.

Alcohol prices

The current government ban has only acted to increase the price of 0.7% of alcohol units sold in England, whilst using a minimum price is predicted to rise the prices of 23.2% of units sold.

A Department of Health spokesperson told BBC News “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.”