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 412.

    404.John from Poole

    >MUP is NOT a tax. It's worse than that. At least with a tax the community gets something back. With MUP the money simply swells supermarket coffers.<

    There is a residual benefit to the exchequer through an increase in VAT gained. However the main beneficiaries would be the retailers. Who then have a larger profit to pay tax upon.

    Sneaky tax n'est pas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    I don't drink so I can look at this fairly unbiasedly.

    I have to wonder if these are the same "experts" that said the smoking ban would increase pub footfall.

    I wonder how you actually get to become an "expert" in predicting the future from no real evidence, besides being Mystic Meg, of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    There are larger numbers of people now drinking at home (often before going out) simply because drink prices in pubs & clubs are at an extortionate price.
    This situation has been created by greedy corporate companies & governments that impose high taxation.

    So please do not blame the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    I have a best friend that was an alcoholic but is clean now.I asked his the question on Alcohol cost and he said if a pint of beer was £5 an alcoholic would always find a way to drink. The cost is irrelevant to people with drinking issues and will not stop people drinking what they do.

    This is just an easy tax for the Government trying to brainwash with health scare issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    yes raising the price should sort it out , just like it did with cigarettes
    I feel like im living in country run by Ernie and Bert

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.


    "It's not a tax!!! Perhaps some of you are already too drunk on cheap cider or extra strong lager to read the article properly???"

    Minimum pricing is not technically a tax but as govt very well knows it is illegal under EU law, so they will unfortunately at the end of the day just have to increase the duty dramatically. And That IS a tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    This report shows the tide is already turning on its own. it just needs a gentle help along not bullying tactics.
    Most people drink responsibly. Drink driving and related injuries are declining, The taxes are fine as they are; we just need better licensing controls and more education on the issue,

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    4.PhilSpace "What people eat and drink is their own choice"

    No it isn't, not while we vote in parties that dictate to us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    MUP is NOT a tax. It's worse than that. At least with a tax the community gets something back. With MUP the money simply swells supermarket coffers. So now we have govt not only interfering with the market but doing so for the direct pecuniary benefit of retailers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    Alcohol dependants will not reduce their intake just because it becomes more expensive - they will just allocate more of their budget for booze.

    This will impact on their children as well as their own health (e.g. buying cheaper, less healthy food).
    This will only impact on hard working individuals who fancy a drink after a hard days work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    This will end being another tax on the everyday man and woman who work hard to be able to pay for food, fuel and a few benefits in life, why oh why can we not find an alternative that is not a penalty on life??

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    @357 It sure is sir.

    Many people giving examples of past minimum-pricing ventures which have failed- did they actually fail though? Your answer to that depends on whether or not you buy into the 'stated' intention of such strategy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    It's not a tax!!! Perhaps some of you are already too drunk on cheap cider or extra strong lager to read the article properly???

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Is it only the young 'binge' drinkers, drinking in cheap drink establishments who have alcohol issues?

    Or the lower paid who might buy the cheaper stuff at the supermarket?

    As these are the only ones who may be affected by this.

    What about the large number of people who can and do afford more than these minimum prices already, who drink excessively.

    For me? Not much of a plan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    Amazing to read all the misinformed viewpoints here.

    "Minimum pricing doesn't work". Wrong. There is an abundance of evidence that categorically proves it does work.

    "The average drinker will be punished and taxed". Wrong. Most alcohol is already priced above the threshold. Only cheap cider, wine and 'value' products will be affected by minimum pricing. Pub prices are well above the minimum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    THE BBC IS NOT BRITAIN'S MORAL COMPASS. Unit pricing discriminates against the poor and not the alcoholic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    I'm sick of reading about tax rises, price increases & laws banning my right to choose hidden under a veil of "duty of care"

    Prohibition lead to increased crime, bootlegging and increased heath risks via poor products

    Each year I pay my taxes and in return I get an endless erosion of my personal freedom, insults to my intelligence and pointless plans to take more. How long do we let this go on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    Your name is a bit close to mine for comfort.
    I don't agree with you:
    "Give people a chance to survive or indeed fail.
    This will help with population levels and produce a stronger society."
    This is a bit Darwinian and cruel.
    I say: if we are responsible for our choices, we'd make less poor ones. People are compassionate, we'd voluntary help those who fall on their choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    The people who keep comparing this with the tobacco/cigarette increases are dumb, because they can switch to e-cigs and just buy Chinese filter 10x+ nicotine for cheaper.

    Obviously you can do booze cruises, and booze runs for cheap booze also, but i don't see the point when some of the drink prices wont change that much. Just go for the "Tramp" ciders and buy the whines/whiskeys abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    People drink alcohol for various reasons, and the moderate social drinker should not be punished because others abuse the privilege. Tackling the reasons why people abuse alcohol would be far more effective than regulating alcohol consumption.


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