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 472.

    We need to be more selective.

    "Easy drinking" alcoholic drinks like "alcopops" mainly aimed at kids should be severely taxed. On the other hand, teenagers in particular are far less likely to binge drink a matured claret.

    Weak drinks like low alcohol beers are also unlikely to be the binge drinker's choice - they prefer the high alcohol brews.

    I think a bit more intelligence is required!

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    Once again the so called 'experts' are showing their ignorance. Raising alcohol prices DOES NOT address the actual cause. Your GP or local chemist can provide remedies for the symptons of a cold but they can not provide anything that will address the cause of the cold. Real experts would investigate and find the causes of the problem drinker and take action to address the cause, not the symptom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Since Scotland are already set to bring this in, why not wait for a year or so and if it is succesful (LMAO) we can roll it out accross the rest of the UK, just like that other highly poular and successful policy the Poll Tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    Anyone can make their own superb beer for 54p per pint by using an E-Bay beer kit. Instead of going to a pub and paying a rip-off £3.50-£4.00 a pint, why not use the money you saved and treat yourself to a 'free' holiday abroad each year."Work is the curse of the drinking classes" (Oscar Wilde)

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    My long time friend & former business partner drank himself to death over the space of two years, he was extremely well educated in many things including chemistry & biology, he was brilliant at his very Hi-Tech job too. He started drinking to forget the stresses in his life he couldn't cope with. I know a bit about this subject & it's obvious from the comments that most don't know a dammed thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    The authorities' answer to every problem in the UK is tough new legislation, higher taxes and restrictions on our freedoms. Responsible, hard-working people are punished with draconian new rules and lower-income families are discriminated against. In this case education is the way forward and a change in culture - we can learn a lot from our European neighbours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    I am sick and tired of the big brother state. Do people not realise the more control you take of people’s lives the less responsible they will become?
    Give people the information they need to make an informed decision and then let them make it.
    Punish the aggressive drunks with the laws we already have.
    But most important stop interfering in other people’s lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    As a quick HYS survey:

    Who here knows people/has friends or family, who are problem binge drinkers as described in the article?

    Who here knows people who stay in with a bottle of wine in front of the telly and doesn't harm society in any way?

    Because I don't actually know anyone who goes into the town centres on a Friday night and gets trashed, and fights and pukes. Maybe I am getting old

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    Re: some below, the poor do not escape their sad lot with booze and fags. - The consumption of booze and fags on a low income creates their poverty.
    In the main group of alcohol abusers, the increased cost of this tax will be bourne by the children of the thick who will always put their own dubious pleasures first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    This is a cultural issue, not a pricing issue. Changing the price won't change the culture. as such it is a complete waste of time and serves only to put more money into the governments tax pot

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    Another move which will only impact on ordinary people. How many of the 'fireproof rich' will this move deter from drinking too much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    Target the problem drinkers not the responsible majority. I am fed up of hearing the prohibitionist nonsense constantly churned out by groups with an axe to grind. Educated,responsible drinkers are perfectly capable of making their own decisions. We do not need endless nagging.

    Restricting the sale of alcohol will cost votes. Mine included.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    The culture thing in the UK is a problem. In mainland Europe, the kids drink alcohol with meals and told to respect it. Here, most young people's first taste of alcohol was some cheap lager or cider that an elder sibling or friend bought for them and drank it in the park.

    My parents taught me the European way of alcohol and never been drunk.

    Today's young adults love being sick in the morning

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    The government could shoot themselves in the foot over this as it will increase the sales and importation of black market booze for which they receive no tax and due to cutbacks of Customs and Trading Standard officers will not be able to contain it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    A benchmark of drinking. Nice one

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    Nettle beer (for instance) sugar, water, nettles and yeast, add some fresh citrus juice. Around 10 pence per pint and so easy to make.

    Beer made using a kit can cost from about 40 pence per pint, strength dependent on the amount sugar added.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    No one here is discussing the cause of this: our country's enforced belief of abrogating our personal responsibility (freedom).

    No on here admits by having a socialist NHS we remove personal responsibility for poor choices. Hey, I don't care if I get liver disease from boozing, NHS will fix me!
    And who pays for NHS? Strangers :(

    Socialism & personal responsibility need to be debated :D

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    I don't hink the price per unit of alcohol is the proble.City centres are war zones because people can drinl practically round the clock.Re-introduce the 10:30 closing time and extend it to 11:30 on Friday and Saturday nights.Get the pi**artists off the streets nice and early.I can't remember the last time i heard a landlord shout 'time gentlemen please'

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    You paint a picture that only those with a drink problem partake of cheap alcohol. Not true, I have seen a number of reports that show that those on low incomes will drink "cheap" alcohol. Not through choice but because that is all they can afford. Many don't drink excessively. One pensioner I recall had a can of beer of a night. But that is not the picture that is being painted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    I am puzzled as to whether this minimum cost for alcohol is deemed a windfall tax for HMRC, extra profit for the sellers, or if it is going into a bottomless purse to pay for the next litany from wherever these interfering clowns turn their withering gaze to next. What nonsense.


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