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 832.

    This from our MPs, who have a DUTY FREE bar in the House of Commons, where a minimum price won't apply, of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    If a minimum price for alcohol was brought it, it would not make any difference to people who drink too much but it would hurt the moderate drinker who like me enjoy wine only at the weekend and never if I drive. Maybe insisting on photo identification to prove your age so very young people cannot buy it. There should be very heavy fines for people who buy alcohol for underage people

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.


    "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?"

    I'm sorry, but what "people" asked for government help on this? I think that the government manage to introduce tax and fines without any request from the people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 829.

    I agree very cheap drinks and 'two for one' or '3 bottles of wine for £10' and like offers should be stopped.

    But then that's enough - anything else is going towards a '1984' view of living.

    And lastly - look at the graph above - there has been a steady drop already since 2005

  • rate this

    Comment number 828.

    They raised taxes, so what's happended.... thousands of pubs have out of business, Supermarkets sell it for nothing to draw people in who drink it behind closed doors, alcohol consumption has rocketed.
    the answer, greatly reduce tax for Pubs and Restaurants, up the tax when sold in supermarkets and you'll see this trend reversed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 827.

    Will any level of price rise control the excesses of some of the richest (and worst-behaved) elements of socety, such as Oxford's notorious Bullngdon Club?

    Britain is a free democracy.

    Not so long ago, when we joined the EU, criticism of our higher prices for beer & wine than those in Europewas heavy.

    Are we now to drive social drinkers to crime with prices similar to thosepaid by heroin users?

  • rate this

    Comment number 826.

    Just another scheme to raise more tax.
    Who do they think they are fooling, anyone with Alcohop dependancy problems will buy it or steal it no matter the price, or perhaps they can convince the drug dealers to increase the price of heroin to solve our drug problem and see what effect that has ?
    It will tax those who drink in moderation and don't require nannying and of course not affect MPs bar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 825.

    To all those who claim this rise in prices will affect them - if you drink while you're out, it won't. This measure will cut down on binge 'pre-drinking' before nights out, which is one of the main ways people get plastered.

    As for scrimping on essentials to buy alcohol - they're called essentials for a reason. The ones that don't or won't cut back have bigger problems than budgeting

  • rate this

    Comment number 824.

    Why oh why is it always the sensible middle ground majority in the UK that has to pay for the less than sensible minority? Someone I know well tells how on benefit day the alkies are queued from early moring before the shop opens to get in and spend their benefits on alcohol then off they go to the local park and drink themselves into a stupor and ruin the area doe children..

  • rate this

    Comment number 823.

    Are the liberalists intent on destorying our society completely, or is this just another ruse to raise revenues? The pub trade employs tens of thousands in this country. They have already marginalised pubs by the no smoking ban. What next, a campaign to close all pubs because they are "bad for our health". We don't need the Muslims to impose Sharia law in this country, we are doing it ourselves!

  • rate this

    Comment number 822.

    This really is penalizing the majority for the sake of a much smaller number of foolish people.

    Has it occurred to anyone that alcohol is not difficult to produce, even safe alcohol? The 'still' may simply be a saucepan with an upturned lid and a small floating vessel to catch the condensate, Applejack is the result of slowly freezing home made wine and removing the ice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 821.

    Pricing controls won't work as drinking is part of UK (and Irish) culture.

    Education can help. Some progress is being made with it being 'trendy' to go running/cycling and generally be fit. However middle class folk still think it's normal to binge drink and make up for it via 'detox January' as if that does any good at all in the long run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 820.

    "Call for UK-wide 50p per unit price"

    Once again make yet something else in our lives a luxury that the well-off can afford without it making a dent in their incomes.

    Car-parking, food costs set to rise because of the horsemeat scandel, house/land prices, fuel costs - crippling costs/taxes to the low paid but the rich & wealthy don't batter an eyelid at these rises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 819.

    If this goes ahead I will stop buying my beer from the local corner-shop (cheaper than the supermarket & they're friendly) & I'll simply source it from the black market.
    I'll listen to my doctors advice, I'll tolerate govt attempts at education.
    I will NOT accept either of them forcing me to behave how they want.
    Who do these pious busybodies think they are?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 818.

    Why don't we simply enforce the existing anti-public-drunkenness laws we have, as they do on the continent? I'm sure the fines could make it self-financing.

    In each bar in France there's a prominently displayed notice of the proprietor's and customer's responsibilities under their like laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    I already make my own 50p high-quality, better than the pub, beer. A £20 beer kit from E-bay makes 40 pints.If I bought that my pub it would cost £140 @ £3.50 for a pint or a whacking £160 @ £4.00 per pint (thus saving me £120-£140) also I have also just avoided paying both VAT and Excise Duty which has gone up 41% in three years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 816.

    The government response to everything is to make us pay more, pathetic, how about putting a bit of effort in and thinking about solution to the CAUSES for a change.

    Time we stopped electing polticians who are either not interested or incapable of governing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 815.

    Just drink sensibly and make sure your kids do its not rocket science

  • Comment number 814.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 813.

    Although undesirable, how big a problem is this?

    I've been drinking in towns and cities for decades and I've never seen these "war zones" that people speak of other than on TV.

    If they exist then at least the Police know where to focus and the local Hospitals know what is coming. People who don't like it know where to avoid.

    Not good and we need Social Change but is it really out of control?


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