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 792.

    The fools in Whitehall want to use raising the price of booze to interfere with the market, but they use the exact opposite method when dealing with the Banks.

    One rule for them and another for us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    So alcohol is going to be too expensive is it?

    That's not a problem for I, and the rest of the people in the UK, can quite easily aquire a whole world of illegal drugs that are far cheaper, have a stronger effect than alcohol (depending what I want) and are completely un-regulated by the government.

    And there's no government in the world that can control this trade - it's second only to oil!

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    The last time i looked the medical profession was paid to treat our injuries and help us when we are sick!
    They are not paid to be a political movement controlling our lives.
    Do your job and mind your own business!

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    The issue will NOT go away as those people who DO have a drinking problem wil simply spend more of their money on alcohol, while the rest of us suffer.
    I buy 2 litre bottles of Strongbow from Tesco @ £3.15pence, thats for 4.2 pints. A very good deal if you ask me. That bottle could easily last all weekend cos im sensible
    Why on earth should I pay an extra £1+ cos of muppets who have a problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    "report...produced by Stirling University experts with the backing of a host of royal colleges, health charities and medical groups"

    I love these reports where the backers are paying for a foregone conclusion. The 6.7% figure may as well be made up from thin air for all it's accuracy.

    And when everyone lives longer thru no smoking/drinking/sugar, what next? Inheritance tax breaks for suicides?

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    The nanny state tackling the symptoms not the cause, as usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Friends! Brew your own beer, grow your own crops! Subvert the state and convert your neighbours, the future is green (and it smells nice, too)

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    If drinking is that bad for us just introduce prohibition like in the USA in the 20's, and while they are at it ban tobacco make nicotine a class a drug. Wait a minute think of all the tax the government will lose hence the hypocrisy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    why is it that every time there's a problem in society and people ask for government help, government automatically thinks about introducing a tax or a fine?
    Invest in educating people if you want to cure this problem, and then let them decide for themselves what to do. You can't stop industry advertising, but you can advertise the adverse effects of too much alchohol. DO THAT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    The Law has a section"protection of children" which in a bar means children are allowed in certain area of a bar. Supermarkets do not adhere to this section
    If unit price comes in, and still discriminate against smokers as hiding the tobacco behind shutters, then the same with alcohol, Make the supermarkets have a 18year old section only, so all drink and tabacco can be supervised

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    49. Matt Marshall wrote:"In the rest of Europe alcohol is already cheaper than here yet they don’t have this problem."


    Oh yes they do!!

    Alcohol consumption is a HUGE problem right across Europe - and the cheaper it gets the bigger the problem.

    I remember small town France having trouble with drunk teens and local biker gangs back in the 70s.

    The UK press loves lying about such things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    The people who this legisltation is aimed at are also the likely targets for criminals that will benefit from this proposal by making illegally manufactured and conterfeit alcohol products more attractive. I wish these so called experts would look at the problem holistically and not from a single, very narrow minded persepctive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    Looks like alcohol and tobacco smuggling are going to be the new growth industries in bankrupt Britain. Any budding entrepreneur knows exactly what they need to do if they wish to get rich quick.

    Here's how to beat the minimum pricing and the Health Fascists:

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    Anyone who thinks this will work should try playing "fag pack snap". Walk down the street and look at the health warnings on discarded cigarette packets. If you see 2 in a row in English you win. You will look in vain, High prices have ensured most people now buy imported smuggled or counterfeit. The culture and supply chains for the same to happen with alcohol are in place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    577. Mandy from Surrey
    Pubs do a far better job of not selling alcohol to people who are intoxicated so I don't see why they should be penalised anymore."

    Yet again, this policy would not penalise pubs at all. It will penalise supermarkets and other cheap alcohol outlets.

    Pubs already charge more than the minimum price so won't be affected by this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    Reducing casual Alcohol abuse can only be done through social change. Not pricing, tax, education, campaigns, signs etc.

    That type of change takes years, maybe decades to happen. In other words much longer than the term of any Government. Any Government is looking for a quick fix, vote winner, statistical improvement.

    It's not going to happen unless we do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    Probably a good idea really. If nothing else it might help hard pressed pubs by helping to protect them from the effects of supermarket loss leaders.

    Most of the beers priced at less than £1.10 are pretty much swill anyway...

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    Do what many of us are now doing - BREW YOUR OWN.

    1. Costs only 40p a pint
    2. So easy to do (see websites for instructions)
    3. Great fun
    4. Cuts out greedy breweries, shops and pud landlords
    5 No tax or VAT payable to grasping government
    6 Vary the strength and flavour to suit
    7 Reliable qualiry
    8 Drink it anywhere
    9 Impress your friends
    10 Did I say, only 40p a pint?

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    "There should be a pan-UK strategy to combat problem drinking..."

    Why not have problem drinking strategies set locally at county, city, town, village level?
    Remember "the Big Society"? No: I didn't think so, but it would be much more fun to have local councils competing with the next town for a better Saturday night, wouldn't it?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    come on I already get my cigs from the black market, £1 per 20, I run my car on red diesel much cheaper than paying all that tax !! :) are you going to force me to brew or buy moon shine now, sounds like a complete blast to me !!!


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