Call for UK-wide 50p per unit price

Woman drinking wine Scotland looks set to have a different minimum price for alcohol to England and Wales

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There should be a pan-UK strategy to combat problem drinking - including a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol, health campaigners say.

The call by a coalition of 70 health groups and campaigners comes as different approaches are being pursued in the UK.

Their report also called for a ban on advertising and tough rules on sales.

Industry said measures should target people who needed help, not everyone who enjoyed a drink.

Devolution has meant different strategies have been developing to tackle rising rates of problem drinking.

In Scotland a 50p price is set to be introduced, while a 45p threshold has been proposed for England and Wales.

Northern Ireland is yet to put forward a specific proposal, although it is reviewing pricing.

Slightly different licensing regimes exist as well.

Start Quote

What we need are targeted solutions focused on those individuals and local areas which require the most help.”

End Quote Henry Ashworth Portman Group

But the report, produced by Stirling University experts with the backing of a host of royal colleges, health charities and medical groups, said this fragmented approach had to end.

Research has suggested a 50p minimum price would reduce consumption by 6.7% which after 10 years would mean there were 3,000 fewer alcohol deaths and 100,000 fewer hospital admissions.

As well as proposing a minimum price, it also said alcohol-related advertising and sponsorship should end and a third of the space of labels should be taken up by health warnings.

Licensing rules should also be standardised, while the drink-drive limit should be lowered, it said.

But perhaps the most radical suggestion was the idea that there should be restrictions on where and when alcohol could be sold.


The report did not put forward specific proposals, but the Stirling team said this could include a ban on sales after certain times in the evening and separate tills in supermarkets for alcohol.

The report, dubbed an independent alcohol strategy for the UK, also highlighted the toll of excessive drinking.

Alcohol consumption has risen by 40% in the past 40 years with a quarter of men and 17% of women drinking more than is good for them.

Alcohol related deaths now stand at nearly 9,000 a year - more than double the figure in the early 1990s.

Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said it was essential the UK governments worked together on the issue.

"The report provides a blueprint for action now and in the future."

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, which has also put its name to the report, added: "We must all do something now to start to tackle this avoidable epidemic."

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which represents the UK's leading drinks producers, said the vast majority of people drink within recommended guidelines.

"What we need are targeted solutions focused on those individuals and local areas which require the most help, not nationwide marketing bans which are proven to be ineffective in reducing alcohol misuse.

"The UK drinks industry has voluntarily introduced a wide range of measures to encourage responsible drinking including health information on labels, an independent complaints process and strict codes of practice which ensure alcohol is marketed responsibly - we must focus on finding local solutions to tackle specific alcohol-related problems, not penalising those who are drinking sensibly."

Drink prices under a 50p minimum (Images: Thinkstock)

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  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    This has nothing to do with the health of the nation neither is it about helping those who are addicted, it's a tax on social enjoyment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    It will mean the return of 'Booze Cruises' to the continent to stock up on wine,spirits and beer.

    Pubs are closing every week due to the smoking ban and the economy - now the supermarkets and off-licences will suffer.

    As for the public - the responsible majority who enjoy a bottle of wine or a few cans at home on a Friday will be punished by this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    You are killing Britain by trying to bring in this unit pricing, pubs and off licenses will loose trade so all those immigrants you wanted in to benefit the economy are now going to be jobless. The Supermarkets will rise in profit as always as they can already sell alcohol at a loss.

    I predict a riot... i predict a riot such a wonderful song, although it may come reality? Crime will rise anyways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    #162 "The UK is the 14th largest consumer of alcohol per head in Europe so can we get away from the myth that this is a cultural issue"

    The 14th largest consumer but the only one with a binge drinking 'culture'. This is not some minority problem its behavioral.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Lets face it, alcohol is now much more freely available than it was years ago. There are more varieties and more outlets selling alcohol.
    The temptation is there but what do you do, increase prices, place alcohol under the counter and out of view?
    In Canada they impose hard restrictions on sale of alcohol and do not permit storage in vehicles. Yet Canada has some of the worst alcohol abuse!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    "In Vino Veritas". The old Latin saying that alcohol brings out our true character is spot on. Dutch and Germans getting Blotto and starting a singsong. Irish with big grins dancing around. Drunk British smashing glasses into each others faces. What's the difference? Is it that we are the only country which thinks it will spoil a child's development if he is taught right and wrong at an early age?

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Perhaps when people are admitted to hospital after a heavy night drinking should be charged for the NHS service- instead of penalising the law abiding citizens with yet more tax. Of course the government will agree to higher prices in the shops as they in turn receive higher revenue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    A solution that doesn't actually fit the known problem. The problem is public drunkenness and under-age drinking.

    Pubs should be better regulated and monitored to avoid selling to the already drunk.

    Drinking in a public place should be illegal.

    Problem solved and the responsibly drinking majority don't end up paying for the idiot minority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    higher taxation does not work THIS is just another way of FLEECING the GOOD HARD WORKERS TO BENIFIT THOSE WHO ARE IRRESPONSIBLE ! Another example of the nanny state ! Leave us ALONE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Raise the price & rip off overstretched consumers even more - what a sensible approach (?). The problem is a society-wide issue of the British associating alcohol with having a good time. In Europe there are many countries selling cheaper (less tax added) booze but they don't have anywhere near the problems that we do. Surely even a politician can work out price is not the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I've just knocked over my beer glass into the ashtray and that's tipped over into my cheeseburger.
    OMG. Will the social services be coming round to take away my children and put them in to care because of the 'risks' they are under at home living with me ?
    It's getting rather 1984 don't you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    I can hear them stacking the crates in Calais now

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Anyone taken to A&E, because of their excessive alcohol consumption should be made to pay for the time of the staff and the treatment they receive there. If they arrived by ambulance then they should be made to pay for that too.
    All physically abusive behavior towards hospital staff should be treated as a criminal offense.
    Maybe then people will start to take responsibility for their own actions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Great to see the price of alcohol going up seeing as I don't drink, which in turn means I don't drink and drive, I don't puke on the pavements abuse NHS staff or Police officers or cost the taxpayer millions of pounds a year on A& E attendances, oh yes, I forgot or glass a fellow human being in the face. Happy drinking while you watch your wages disappear down the urinal lol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Is there anyone else out there bored to the back teeth with continual drivel.
    Please leave us alone and don't play the cost to the NHS card - the tax on booze is enormous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    I don’t (and never have had) a drink problem so why is someone trying to punish me by hiking up the cost of my drinks? Blanket bombing must be the ‘in thing’ at the moment! Apparently, Obama now sends out a drone to wipe-out a whole family just to kill one ‘suspected’ terrorist... funny that! Whatever happened to being presumed innocent until being ‘proved’ guilty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Tax, Pricing, Education is all nonsense.

    Ou rmedia, social groups and peers treat getting so drunk you forget everything, can't walk, throw up as "a bit of a laugh", a "badge of honour" a "rite of passage". We need everyone to stop glamorising alcohol abuse, stop showing it on the TV etc. and treat it more seriously than a Naughty Vice.

    Social change from within is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Look at the graph more closely. Alcohol consumption has fallen back to the same level it was in the '90s already- this is due to the Licensing Act 2003, coming into effect in 2005. The article implies it is rising, but that is simply untrue.
    If there is a MUP, it needs to be in the form of a ringfenced fund for helping those damaged, not just adding to store profits!

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Charge those who abuse Alcohol on a weekend (Police costs, A&E costs and any disorder which is created). Why should the average man and woman who work and pay taxes and use drink to relax pay the cost for the reckless groups who abuse drink. Leave the rest of us alone we are not cash machines we already pay too much in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Tionisla is quite right. People live in one room rabbit hutches which are too small to do a large jigsaw puzzle, are told not to eat junk food in front of the telly, must not smoke any more and that they must lose weight. What ELSE is there to do but to go out for a drink?


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