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 732.

    Perhaps these 'experts' should have a long look at history. Excess drinking has been a problem for centuries.
    The idea is actually only going to increase the tax take.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    726. SK
    "any alcohol I admit into my body is already above that minimum price.

    So, how does this law make it more expensive?"

    Because the producers of the more expensive brands will retain the price differential between their brand and the cheap rubbish that is now 50p per unit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.


    Because our health is far too important to leave in the hands of people who put profit before health. We pay into the NHS to secure healthcare for all AND ourselves. The tax I pay may be spent on binge drinkers etc but it is also there for ME when I need it. Hospitals are an essential service of our society's health not some bank or business for money making, your comparison is a bad one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    Two inalienable Human rights.

    To drink oneself to death.

    To whine about the cost of Alcohol whilst doing so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Is this not the land of the free?? Why are they trying to control what we drink, they are already controlling what we eat. It should be down to us what we eat and drink. Its fine to tell us whats good and whats bad, but forcing us to live by your standards is no more than a parent telling a child not to do something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    Ok here's a thought. The graph shows that alcohol consumption per capita is actually dropping and it has in fact drop 13% from 2004 to 2011. As alcohol consumption is actually on the decline, why do people feel the need to actually try and deal with a problem that's actually in decline? It's like taking a chainsaw to a weed.. overkill for the sake of trying to look tough

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    Don't like the nanny state and all, think this minimal pricing is totally unnecessary, but...

    any alcohol I admit into my body is already above that minimum price.

    So, how does this law make it more expensive?

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    Making the majority suffer for the minority few. Is this what Democracy in Britian amounts to today, or am I missing something?

    Education is the answer, not a secret tax.

    - Educate bar staff to stop serving drunk people.
    - Educate bouncers to prevent drunk people entering.
    - Educate individuals to know their limits.

    And if money is so important, target repeat offenders with incremental fines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.


    >Do you not know what per capita means?

    Ooops, sorry, I missed that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    Another nail in the coffin of liberty by central planners, under the guise of nannying us from cradle to gave.

    “Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
    ~Frédéric Bastiat

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.


    "I for one will be enjoying a bottle of real ale when I get home tonight. And why on earth shouldn't I? [...] Why should I suffer a price increase because other people like getting bladdered on cheap cider?"

    I'm unaware of any Real Ale that costs less per unit of alcohol than the proposed minimum price. You won't be affected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    it wont stop the idiots getting boozed out of there skulls on the weekend puts more money the chancellors way, ambulances hospitals and doctors should be allowed to bill these idiots for the extra stress they add to the over stretched NHS cant remember the last time I went out for a beer with a mortgage and two kids cant afford it

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    @700. Oldtimerwhat Actually a virtually identical solution was suggested recently for obesity
    704. Plumstone Looking at the article (crazy idea I know) I would guess what you're drinking wouldn't be affected
    691. Howesyourview It's the behaviour of pretty much every government ever, silly comparison there!
    692. Perpetual Sigh Beeb isn't saying this is right/wrong, just reporting on report

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    When WILL govenment understand you can't just legislate these "problems" away? It's WHY there are these "problems" & it's those that need to be addressed. Given the state of the economy, employment conditions & society in general, is it any wonder people turn to the bottle? Stop governing the people & start governing the country! And just WHO will get the extra profit? Another revenue wheeze?

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Very interesting that all this information on units is based on a1987report by a group of doctors obliged to make a recomendation!
    A former editer of the B M J reported there was "no decent data and no firm evdence at all(for recomending units)and it was"an intelligent guess by a committee

    So once you realise this;you know what its all really about because without a"unit"you have no"unit"price!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    Why is it the majority always seem to suffer for the minority.
    Being on a low income, which these days is lucky in itself, these changes will hit me hard. If i had a nice large pay packet like the people who introduce these things then maybe things would be different.
    I cant wait for the introduction of more of these great ideas to combat obesity etc. This stinks of keeping the poor poor....

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.


    1, People have abandoned the pub as cheaper drink in Supermarkets
    2. People drink more in quantity as they stay at home
    3. Smoking ban and cheap supermarket booze, is closing the pubs
    4. Cheap "specials" is a Marketing tool by supermarkets to get men in, as they tent to ADD it the weekly shopping bill
    5 Unit price will in effect reduce under age from getting cheap booze

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    My wife and I enjoy a glas off wine with our dinner. We have found a cheap table wine which we like. The price would go up £1.89 per bottle. Between us we drink 3 bottles a week so these proposals would cost us £100 a year out of our pension. It is wrong that people who drink responsibly should suffer for the stupid morons who deliberately set out to get wasted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    Nanny State!

    Don't penalise the majority for what is a problem with a minority of the population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    With the cost of a tin of lager to be at least £1.10 will this then mean that the cheap low quality beer will then be priced the same as the more high quality stuff? Either many businesses are going to go bust OR as I suspect, they will put the price up on the high quality beers to maintain the 'reassuringly expensive' tag.


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