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 432.

    The English have always had a propensity for excessive drinking; it is recorded as far back as the middle ages. Stop buying it all together and help screw the Government's income. If you must drink; buy a home brew kit. 20% VAT on the kit price yields less revenue per pint than buying it in the pub or in a supermarket - you do the maths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    Aside from the nanny state issues this represents, it just will not work.

    There are an increasing number of studies that illustrate the majority of the health & NHS cost issues actually relate to people over 50.

    They're not the ones buying cheap booze.

    This is an education issue and the recommended introduction of another stick to beat us with is wide of the mark.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    50p per unit........LETS INCREASE TO £5 A UNIT

    Liver Transplants for Alcoholics.......LETS PUT AN END TO THIS!

    They brought this on themselves - either make them pay or leave them to fend for themselves....natural selection would then get rid of the genetics which give people alcoholism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    No matter what starting price they have per unit, every six to twelve months you will have some doctor or politician trying to make a name for themselves by advocating "putting the price per unit up X amount will saves Y number of lives a year".
    Just like raising road and tobacco duty every year, it'll have no effect on the problem. Completely fails to solve the root causes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    If a minimum price per unit is brought in, we along with others will simply go to France to purchase.

    The booze cruise culture will once again start up :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Why not use current laws to curb the excesses. Lets shut down pubs & clubs that allow people to get sozzled (weeks to start with). Liscence owners will then "police" their own. People loosing their "freedom" and right of access when blootered will soon switch on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    The price of alcohol or the hours establishments open does have no bearing on individuals behaviour. I have been to Las Vegas for the last 25 years and this is really a 24 hour place to drink and I have only seem people drunk very occasionally, ashamed to say though they were Brits. It is our lack of self morals that cause these issues along with lack of prosecution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Drinking alcohol in moderation is not harmful to health, why should responsible drinkers be forced to pay for those who are not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Go away and leave us alone, it will only hit the poorest, it will not stop the drunks or those out to get ratted on a weekend
    The Government are only trying to get more tax in the Treasury, the price increases won't stop anyone in the cabinet drinking just what they want in the subsidized Parliament bars and if they really want to save lives why don't they solve soaring fuel poverty.
    Out of Touch

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    I can just see the headline after they do it too...'Alcohol theft higher than fuel theft' & 'Dodgy alcohol sales on the rise' The sensible thing to do would be first educate people properly about alcohol dangers & second would be reduce the stress that causes so many to drink excessively! Most people don't drink excessively for fun, they do it to ESCAPE their problems for a short time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    we never had this problem before supermarkets sold booze. We never had pubs closing before supermarkets sold booze. Alcohol should be sold in pubs ,the outdoor or restaurants when having a meal or clubs. Nowhere else. This will stop binge drinking at home before going out for the night. Trying to use price to stop people drinking wont work. Lack of availability will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    In your comment you advocated:
    Theft (taxes).
    Indoctrination (state monoplised education & curriculums).
    Costly persmission from your local stasi officer (Licensing controls).

    But you opened your comment opposing "bullying tactics"?
    In the spirit of that, why not stop forcing us to pay for the treatment of strangers' poor drinking choices via a socialised healthcare system?

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    384 Chris London

    Alcohol in moderation is not a problem, so drinking a bottle of wine or two a week (for minimum £7) would be fine.

    What kind of people do you think are drinking the cheap cider/wine or extra strong lager? It's mostly not people who just want to have a wee tipple, it's mostly people with a drinking problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Just get to the point and BAN ALCOHOL. it is a harmful and dangerous DRUG and clearly people cannot be trusted to cotrol themselves around it! Just look at the gangs of yobs running around every city centre in the early hours- surely this is motivation enough for a blanket ban?! And make people hositalised as a result of alcohol pay for their treatment or DONT TREAT THEM AT ALL

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    Research this week showed that problem drinking is particularly high amongst middle class women. A minimum price per unit is not going to affect their ability to buy alcohol, but it will stop less well off people from partaking in even limited drinking. And we all know it won't apply to the subsidised bars in parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    @409 - The idea is to prevent people becoming alcoholics in the first place. If you have reduced consumption due to reduced ability to purchase from the start of your drinking life then the chances are you will not become an alcoholic.

    Easy access to cheap drink makes it far easier to develop an alcohol problem. If you look at the stats moderate drinkers may be £10 a year worse off. Not a lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    People need to be able to enjoy an affordable drink when they wish. Drinking in public places must be done responsibly and those who become drunk and disorderly must be arrested in accordance with the law. At the moment, it seems that drunks are tolerated by the police and even supported by being given flat shoes and put in taxis. Apply the law and arrest the brain-dead drink hooligans!

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Seriously how can you stop a drinker by putting a minimum price..they will end up like the druggys who steal to feed their habit's then insurance premiums go up, pubs close, more jobless, more people for food banks etc., Maybe home brewing kits will get more business but that too can be more lethal if experimenting. Alcohol addiction is a disease and no amount of money on booze is going to cure it

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    I find this price-hiking governmental approach to all of society's woes utterly infuriating! And be assured this will just be the start of above-inflation price rises on drink.

    The issue of excessive alcohol consumption is cultural and should be addressed as per any process of culture change - through educational, behavioural and attitudinal interventions - NOT punitive pricing for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    There should be a pan-UK strategy to combat the number of studies telling us what we should and should not do whilst at the same time adding to our already far too heavy tax burden.


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