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 712.

    So, here we go again another example of nanny state interference, all based on very dubious evidence and research by - guess what? Experts.
    Before we are inundated with applications to become one of these 'experts' with the obvious promise of regular sampling of a wide range of alcohol, it should be pointed out that to qualify as an expert you must have an absolute hatred of enjoyment and freedom

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    The price of alcohol is already high; has that stopped people buying it? No. Cigarettes are incredibly expensive; do people stop smoking because of cost? No. Drugs are expensive and illegal; do people stop taking them? No! This approach won’t stop people drinking; it will only increase tax revenue on a predictable market. If that is the intention then be honest about it - at least it's logical!

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    Yeah - thalidomide was passed by "E X P E R T S" too.
    More uk BS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    this will only affect the poor again, i wouldnt even touch the stuff that will be affected as it's mostly rubbish cheap drinks anyway. with bedroom tax's, reducing benefits & increasing price of alcohol. this is only going to end in riots

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    I am off for a very nice day trip to France next week. Return Eurostar £60, lovely fish lunch in a restaurant that is right by the sea, explore the rock pools, off to Leclerc to buy 12x5litre boxes of wine for £8 each to last me a year. then to my favourite restaurant in Calais for a fantastic french meal for £19 and back home by midnight. Same each year, life can be very good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    2 years ago I was a student, I definitely drank too much and I drink no where near the same amount now. The aim is to encourage people not to drink as much... here are the actual results.
    Normal people get penalized despite drinking sensibly.
    Those like students will still binge just as much. They will pass other things like healthy food.
    UK rich richer - poor poorer

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    A completely pointless idea because those who it needs to affect - Alcoholics - already get extra money from the NHS to feed their habbit. All this does is punish the poor rather than encourage safer drinking...

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    Typical lazy response. Rather than tackle the sociological problems, they simply impose a tax or price rise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    I for one will be enjoying a bottle of real ale when I get home tonight. And why on earth shouldn't I? I won't be driving, throwing up on the streets, abusing anyone or having instant liver failure. I'll just be relaxing with my feet up after a hard week's work. Why should I suffer a price increase because other people like getting bladdered on cheap cider?

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    "That graph is all kinds of wrong. The population increased by 11% over that period for a start, so the litres of consumption will naturally increase."

    Do you not know what per capita means?

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    "We used to go out 7 nights a week, then, once prices increased, weekend only!"

    This will have no affect on the prices of drinks when you're out as they are already far more than the minimum price. It will only be noticed in

    However, I hate how the Gov's solution to any problem seems to be to make it more expensive. I guess if non of us have any money, we can't do anything bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    Why, when there are 'problems' like 'binge drinking' do the powers that be think that the solution is raise a 'financial penalty' against everybody.The problem is not cheap booze, it's irresponsible drinkers so make them pay. If they act in a manner which involves the Police or Ambulance/NH Service, charge them the actual cost of that service. I'm sure they will soon become responsible drinkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    Don't you find it amazing that the Government wants to step in to try to curb our drinking but refuses to bring in legislation to curb grossly unhealthy obesity producing foods?

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    No goods should be taxed ad hoc or arbitrarily to raise general revenue. Only to offset the costs to the community they cause. If folk choose to drink less (many know they should) health issues and related costs should decline, and the tax raised SHOULD be reduced. If people still keep drinking, at least those costs would be covered by such a tax. The costs shouldn't be subsidised via VAT / PAYE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    That graph is all kinds of wrong. The population increased by 11% over that period for a start, so the litres of consumption will naturally increase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    The real question is why do so many feel they need to drink to excess? I can't see the government solving everyone's mental health issues so how exactly do you limit consumption if not by price? Ever been to a do with a free bar? Lots of very drunk people. Of course many will try to argue that price has no effect....

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    Can these people please stop interfering in our lives? I am fed up with constant chirping from the chattering classes about how and what I eat and drink. If we are not careful we will end up eating grass smoothies as the only permitted food!

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    People are saving all their spare money now for weekends, then binge drinking! Increasing prices won't do anything! By lowering prices so it's more affordable to go out during the week instead of just weekends is what's needed! This will stimulate the economy and may well reduce the binge culture! We used to go out 7 nights a week, then, once prices increased, weekend only!

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    Classic socialist question dodge.
    This is what happens when you hypocrisy is revealed to you.

    Anyone else got an answer to 654 (unlikely)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    @TIMBO 676 Alcoholics are the alcohol related deaths they are trying to prevent as the piece states above. Of course supply and demand holds but that model does not take into account other circumstances e.g if an indervidual is an alcoholic or not. clearly you are not an economics graduate or you would not make such pathetically ignorant comment because presumably you don't like people that drink.


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