Government needs to stick by its commitment to introduce minimum alcohol pricing

It is time to regulate the supply and price of alcohol to encourage a reduction in alcohol consumption particularly by those who drink more alcohol than is recommended in health guidelines. Listening to the views of the alcohol industry is the same as consulting drug dealers on the regulation and legality of heroin or asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

Along with many others Blenheim is concerned about Government ‘still evaluating’ the plan for minimum alcohol pricing.  As this step acknowledges the clear relationship between price and the consumption of alcohol and associated harms, which is supported by substantial and robust evidence and modeling. Minimum unit pricing is particularly important in helping to address alcohol consumption’s contribution to chronic disease and will primarily target harmful and hazardous drinkers, with comparatively little impact on the spending of moderate drinkers. Evidence shows that it is the cheapest alcohol that is causing high levels of harm—in the UK on average, harmful drinkers buy 15 times more alcohol than moderate drinkers, yet pay 40% less per unit.

Modelling conducted by the University of Sheffield found that increasing levels of minimum pricing show substantial increases in effectiveness (see Figure 1 below). Blenheim supports the introduction of a minimum unit price of at least 50p per unit, which the modeling suggests would reduce total alcohol consumption by 6.7%, saving around 20,000 hospital admissions in the first year and 97,000 a year once the policy has been in place for 10 years. This would result in direct costs saved in relation to health, crime and workplace impacts in England of £7.6 billion over 10 years.

Figure 1

alcohol graph

Banning multi-buy discounts – Blenheim also calls on the Government to ban multi-buy promotions. The University of Sheffield modeling shows that increasing restrictions in off-trade discounting (i.e. through multi-buys) does have increasing effects in a similar way to minimum pricing. Restrictions to 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% discounting give estimated consumption changes of −0.1%, −0.3%, −1.6%, −2.8% respectively. A 2.8% reduction in consumption is similar to the change estimated for a 40p minimum price (see Figure 1 above).


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