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 452.

    So yet another tax on responsible adults to try to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer/blunderbuss approach. It's no wonder middle-aged middle-class emigration continues to less nanny-state countries. Why are there so many groups/organisations which continually try to tell us what is good for us ? I agree with Hampshire_John - Calais booze shops will do very well if this goes ahead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Smoking is always bad for health; drinking alcohol is not always bad. So the idea of replicating for alcohol the strategy to reduce smoking is flawed. It will penalise responsible drinkers and the less well-off and divert attention from supporting those with an alcohol problem. Why do government advisors keep legislating against the majority to fix minority problems? I'm sick of the nanny state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    The culture has to be changed not the price. This another futile tax that will make no difference whatsoever. Food scandals, fuel prices rising all the time, bedroom tax, eating acceptable quality food, keeping warm and having a home are basic human rights. Sort that then your alcohol and drug related problems will diminish overnight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    101 Victor Meldrew. You are right.
    Boozy Friday & Saturday nights are out of control in many town centres. Whatever happened to self control?

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    As long as the increase is not grabbed by the government in taxes I could support it.

    However, they might be better advised to address the issue properly and look at why alcohol in much of Europe is cheap but they don't have the same problem!

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    More people will use other recreational drugs if alcohol gets expensive, and anyone abusing drugs be it legal or illegal will still be abusers and still be destructive to themselves and society...time to grow up and manage our relationship with drugs as adults, and see addicts or abusers not through their drug of choice but as personalities capable of being addicted or to abuse any drug.

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    Alcohol is never covered in a positive way by the media, and that is understandable given some of the potential problems that it can cause.

    So here's my little counter-point. On the odd occasion I have a drink I enjoy it. A red wine with a meal with good friends adds to the enjoyment, a g&t after a hard week is relaxing, and a pint when watching rugby enhances the experience.

    Cheers alcohol

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    Glad to see England yet again following in Scotlands footsteps in regards to minimum pricing. You can easy spot the posters who like a dram or six and who will end up causing the health service millions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    @419 - I hope this is a joke, or you live in a crap area. Lets ban the car & contact sports while we're about it. Maybe you would be happy to have a society where freedom to act & think independently is not regarded as a human right. I'm afraid that that will always mean a minority will go too far & cause an issue. Better to educate early & make parents more responsible for their kids wellbeing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    This is simply a device to improve Brewers Profits and HMRC's tax take.

    Brewer's have to take the consequences of long term poor management of Pubs and Tenancies.

    There are many free houses that are doing very well, by doing a better job, that's the way to go, more free houses.

    The tied house monopolies need to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    I am particularly angry as a responsible drinker that I will be penalised for other's excesses. In any case this will not work and furthermore who will be pocketing the increased limit? Answer: Supermarkets! Be very clear this is not a tax so it will not go into some deposit to help problem drinkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    We can't go on nannying people. if society drives people to drink its societies fault but if people can't control themselves its their fault and they will be replaced by those that can.
    Its just like the drugs thing. Stop controlling it and let the market resolve itself. in the end the market for self destruction will dry up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    There was a government war against smoking a while ago and since then, prices have gone up and up to the extent where the vast majority of people buy their smokes from abroad whenever they can thus no UK duty is paid and criminal gangs have got involved to a greater extent than before and are raking it in.

    Get ready for the same to happen with alcohol if this proposed lunacy goes ahead!!!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    Once again this countries current attitude of 'no consequences for your actions' kicks in and affects the innocent majority. Why is the government so weak willed that it won't tackle problems like this head on and actually deal with the people causing the problems.
    I suppose this is just easier and also gives the bonus of additional funds for the governments empty coffers......

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Just simply raising prices does not help. Restricting the sale of alcohol so it is not available 24 hours could help, All that it means is that you would have to plan more before buying in. Focusing on getting the pubs back into place where poeple can be safe and more easily monitored may help. And also sort the nightclubs out. They are the hub for the youth, so making them close earlier maybe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    I don't know what about a minimum price per unit, how about getting a uniform "unit" across the whole of Europe - this is something the EU could certainly do.

    Presently, drinking French labelled bottles, purchased in France, a 13% bottle of wine is about 8.5 units, whereas in UK it's 10-11 units. it's an absolute farce!

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.


    Yeah and let's ban red meat, and sugar, and salt, and 18 movies, and computer games.....

    George Orwell would love you.

    Don't punish the vast majority for the actions of a small minority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    422.phil neil

    "we never had this problem before supermarkets sold booze. We never had pubs closing before supermarkets sold booze. This will stop binge drinking at home. Trying to use price to stop people drinking wont work. Lack of availability will."

    The disturbed ramblings of a puritan who doesn't know that all you need to make booze is a big tub, some organic material and patience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    What is really needed is a survey into why so many people feel that a good night out means they have to get so drunk that they end up in A&E or with a washout weekend as they nurse a hangover in bed.
    What happened to the art of conversation, theatre & cinema-going or going to a night club to dance just for the enjoyment of dancing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    It's our culture, business nature and policing that need to change. Alcohol is cheaper throughout Europe, but this problem is primarily a British one. Chain venues have destroyed smaller community venues, selling cheap rubbish with no responsibility or accountability. They don't fear loosing their licence, they get away with whatever they like while a real pub wouldn't. THAT is the problem.


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