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 212.

    I was surprised to see a story on the Scotland pages that was open for comments, but when I opened it I can see that's only the case because it's actually on the Health pages. Ah well. I can't believe the BBC have got away with discriminating against their Scottish customers in that way for so long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Experts say 50p per unit will curb alcohol abuse...
    Utter Tosh, charge £5 and it still won't put off people desperate to drink.
    Like the majority of responsible UK drinkers I drink moderately, why therefore have I got to pay more for the failures of the minority?
    Too many do gooders who spout tripe advice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    thank god (or nearest equivalent) for Red Biddy

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Don't know about the proposed unit price level, but one thing is certain. It's high time this devolution nonsense was knocked on the head, and things like this reverted to being standard across the whole of this so-called United Kingdom. Why should matters affecting honest, ujpright tax-paying citizens of a modern 21st century state depend on whereabouts they happen to live within that state?

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Yet another load of jobsworths and busybodies sticking their noses into peoples business

    Another con trick too - no doubt for our own good taxes will be increased yet again - and once again making a pleasure the preserve of just the rich with the poor marginalised even further

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    A price rise won't stop people drinking - same as it didn't work for fags (the indoor ban did). I'm fed up with people telling us how to live - food, booze etc. We all have to die of something (and besides, apparently we're all living too long anyway!) and there's nothing wrong with having a bit of pleasure along the way. We shouldn't all suffer because some people overdo it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    "Research suggested a 50p min price would reduce consumption by 6.7% which after 10 yrs would mean 3000 fewer alcohol deaths..."

    Yet more bad statistics used to justify draconian taxtion.

    Even if 6.7% was accurate, reductions wouldn't be uniform with those who drink little being most likely to cut down, so 10 yr projections are just wild speculation.

    Don't use tax to address cultural problems!

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Why should I or others pay more because others are incapable of going out without getting bladdered? Putting the cost up will make little difference, there needs to be a re-education about the issues excessive drinking causes, which parents are ultimately responsible for. Punishing the majority is a cop out, it does not deal with the root causes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Raising the price of a drink will not deter the heaviest drinkers. Instead it will deter the moderate drinkers.

    None of these Universities' researches was able to differentiate between the impacts on light and heavy drinkers. Nor did they attempt so to do.

    The conclusion that the problem of binge drinking in public places can be remedied by raising price is not supported by these 'researches'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Why are the responsible people penalized yet again for people who take no responsibility for their behavior. Why can't the punishment be much harsher for drunken behavior ? You don't get this problem in most other countries as it is not tolerated by their societies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Incined to agree with Megan (below). Those who want to drink to excess will simply by skimping elsewhere. Doubtless as a nation, we probably all drink too much but sadly this is a cultural issue and certainly one I find rather embarassing when I journey abroad and see how the great unwashed (British public) behave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    As usual the low-paid working man who lives "north of the Watford Gap" (and probably still dresses in woad) will notice the extra cost of his weekly half a pint of mild (it's all he can afford).
    By contrast, Champagne Charlie of the prawn-sandwich-and-canape circuit will still get so hammered every night, he won't notice the difference. This "solution" solves NOTHING!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    50p per unit? That makes a pint of bitter about £1.20.
    We gonna see that in the pub? Dream on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Tax tax tax.... How else can Dave get money to give to the 3rd world?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Working part-time as a doorman whilst at university, I was quickly put off frequent and excessive drinking.
    Witnessing endless amounts of people fighting and passing out (for no reason), on a regular basis was worrying.
    Hike up the price as much as you like, it wont remove the culture or habits of groups/individuals.
    You are responsible for your own actions, a price increase wont amend behaviour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    The drinks industry are a joke. Like their tiny drink aware signs on posters and advertisements.

    Drink laws and pricing must be totally draconian to get it out of the hands of uneducated idiots and alcoholics.

    Children must be taught at an early age about the effects of gambling and excessive alcohol consumption. Only with education can we deal with this decline in health.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    How many times does it need to be said, why penalise the majority for the mindless morons that drink to excess, why not do the sensible thing, fine clubs/pubs that allow people to get excessively drunk, and close those that continuously break the rules, but no, that means a loss of revenue, and we cant have that can we... This continuous tax take on us, just will not be tolerated much longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    The BBC, among others, is guilty of glamourizing teenage drunkenness in its programming. The government should levy a hefty tax on broadcasters who put out such drivel, and leave us responsible drinkers alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Lets hope the Eastleigh results occupy their minds, although I`m not holding my breath, and the Government tells the `Health Police` to go and do one...but politely of course. We don`t need their stupid views and the nation isnt in a mood to listen. NO MORE TAXES...get it????? I do hope so

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    It would be the motivation I need to go back to brewing my own beer...and maybe another attempt at wine making!!


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