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 812.

    Pubs, clubs & Off Licences regulated hours that Labour blew away for donations & lobbying fees.
    Go back to the 'old ways' that worked.
    The powerfull S/Markets with the aid of Govt (especially the last one) with all the 'help' they gave has caused a great deal of unemployment in the Licenced trade and valuable VAT revenue reduction, plus future added strain on the NHS due to duty free prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 811.

    'Experts'? let the stupid idiots buy expensive drink only the BBC would report this.
    The public need to be trusted and given power back or we end up a pile of robots (maybe that is what the politicians want).
    minimum pricing doesn't even raise tax it just gives excess profits to companies who will not even spend it on health. For 'expert' read idiot, for BBC read government propaganda ministry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 810.

    all that will happen is the people that get 4 tins of strong lager, a in of baked beans and a loaf of bread, will not bother with the beans and bread.

  • rate this

    Comment number 809.

    When will so called experts and this useless government see that you don't just pass a law and binge drinking and all its problems will go away. Change the culture, change the attitude that says getting "legless " is cool. We have had some sort of alcohol for thousands of years and we are still here. Stop hitting those who are responsible for those that are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 808.

    This move has nothing to do with trying to stop binge drinking, and is all to do with trying to fleece more money from tax payers.
    I thought the tories were supposed to be the low tax party, yet this piece of blatant lies goes against that completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 807.

    Setting a minimum unit price WON'T stop binge (problem) drinking, it will just make it more likely that the money will come from somewhere else, possibly from increased crime.

    The root causes of problem drinking need to be tackled, increasing the cost to social drinkers won't do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 806.

    @101. VictorMeldrew
    I couldn't agree more. And the negative rating your comment is getting shows how deep seated the issue is!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 805.

    Overpaid underworked civil servant control freaks strike again! Whatever has happened to freedom?

    Leave well alone! let the people, who, after all are grown-ups, make their own decisions.

    This ridiculous suggestion only victimizes the majority of the population who at the end of the day conduct their lives responsibly.

    We would be much better served and better off without this nonsense

  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    I shall be brewing my own again if this goes through.
    It costs about a tenth of the price per unit of even the cheapest supermarket brands (to brew alcohol rather than beer). It just takes more time.
    I guess the home-brewing market will be in for a revival !

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    So the more money you have, the more you can drink.

    Now who could that possibly favour?

  • rate this

    Comment number 802.

    Stop trying to tell people what is good for them - that is for the individual to decide.

    To stop antisocial drunken behaviour simply introduce sufficient deterrents - like heavy penalties that people believe will actually be enforced!

    Is this Orwellian social engineering or another stealth tax?

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    775. Aunty Sue Knows Best - "Do what many of us are now doing - BREW YOUR OWN ... Reliable qualiry"

    HICK! :-D

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    793.Nullus Querror
    "alcohol is too cheap."
    This is the kind of social and economic ignorance which pervades this debate. A beer is like any other product. I thought our economy strived towards more productivity = lower cost of goods.

    Then we get social tyrants, like 793.Nullus, who want to control us. See 769.

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    I should hope it does last you all weekend :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 798.

    lot of “pubs are the best place for drink & MUP will be good for them”
    1. people have a fixed alcohol budget, make the cheapest more expensive reduces what they spend on the most expensive RIP your local

    2 was it not pubs who gave us all you can drink for £15, happy hours few tables & chairs so you stand & hold your glass, salty snacks, loud music to stop talk all to make you drink more?

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    Why should be care about stupid, rich City women who want to drink themselves stupid or those in the middle classes. There are decent people without jobs in this country who act sensibly and don't drink. and a are respectful. You see these City types (men and women) throwing up on the trains and stations in London on Friday nights - meanwhile the decent people struggle with money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    There are reasons some drink the way they do - trying to price them out of it will not work and will actually do more harm than good. More hope and opportunities for people to live a better life and be involved with their community and country and better support for those with depression would certainly help.

    @4. PhilSpace
    You seem to misunderstand what a socialist is...

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    The call for minimum price alcohol has very little to do with so called binge drinking and more to do with raising taxes.Raise the maximum fine for drunken behaviour, to match the incomes of these (predominantly) young people and arrest more of them and their attitude towards alcohol will change. Charge the ones that need NHS treatment, like RTA victims are charged and they'll soon learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    As a responsible consumer of alcohol, I would resent any increase in price which is directed at those people who do have a problem. I am also curious as to the recipient of additional revenue which will result from this exercise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    alcohol is too cheap.

    The price of a bottle of vodka has fallen in real terms over a course of the 25 years I have been drinking. Drunkeness has increased, there is a connection. Double the price of all alcohol.


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