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 992.

    This is just the way of things, Darwinism at work in the modern age. The logical step is to set an additional tax yearly that would neutralise the drain on the NHS for dealing with drink related problems,. It is not the government's job to augment people's lifestyle or dictate how they live via price fixing, but to run the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    975. 01001100011100001111
    "Well yes, if it cost me no more to eat out than eat in, darn right I'd eat out every night"

    True but if it was still be much cheaper to eat in, although much more expensive, than before there is no way you would eat out more, you would eat out less : Result less pubs

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    To those who say this is not a tax, stop being so naive! It is another Tory tax. Increased corporation tax take on the higher value sales and increased VAT revenue too. The Tories know this, which is why they plan to hit the entire population with their new tax, rather than tackle any so-called 'problem'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    If you want to know who is the originator of this so called concern for our health & moral well-being then follow the money. The revenue from this will go straight to the government who are seemingly determined to make our lives as austere as possible. More sneaky taxes from dishonest fatcats!

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    It's all well and good stigmatising drinkers and smokers for that matter, but remember we would be buggered without their taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.

    So a rubbish bottle of wine which takes your enamel off your teeth like liberfraumilch will cost £4.88, so what will happen a reasonable the £10 bottle that's going to become £15. for more like £20

    I guess that doesn't matter to politicians as they have a tax payer subsidised bar, food allowance and access to the government wine cellars at £600 per bottle

    I'm off for a drink

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    Looks like a solution looking for a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    If the Govt., thinks you're a Problem & a Pleb. They'll apply TAX & LAW to "MAKE" you desist... Has this ever worked?
    They won't sort Tax EVASION - 'cause it suits the "Rulers" - Within 15 Years... We'll all be back to ... shoving kids up chimneys/being 'scalped' by machinery, and tugging forelocks. Gawd A'Mighty I'm Blessed to have the chance to be earnin' a Penny, Thank You Gov...

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    Once again,those sitting in ivory towers with no concept of what the real world is like think they know better....." I say Tarquin pass the 120 year port".....splutter splutter "certainly old bean,now how should we stop this drinking problem"......glug glug glug......"I say i think I have an idea" Hic!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 983.

    Why do you think you should have the right to tell strangers what they should buy a beer for, and sell it for?

  • rate this

    Comment number 982.

    Alcohol is too cheap for the rich and too expensive for the poor..abit like petty fines

  • rate this

    Comment number 981.

    Minimum?????-- should be a MAXIMUM price,beer 50 pence as in 1977.

  • rate this

    Comment number 980.

    The only sensible way to enforce a minimum unit price is to set the tax at that value. Let the government do that, at 50p for now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 979.

    Avoidable epidemic,blueprint for action,independant alcohol strategy....good god i badly need a drink,may even become an alcoholic....saints preserve us why dont these people go away and lock themselves in a cupboard..and let me enjoy my pint..

  • rate this

    Comment number 978.

    It's already heavily priced due to the taxes on alcohol.

    Sure, alcohol is bad for you, but so is giving money to this government. At least by drinking alcohol it's your choice and you don't hurt anyone else.

    Both Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems all want to control what you eat, drink, say and do.

    UKIP is the only party promoting self responsibility and freedom to live how you want to

  • rate this

    Comment number 977.

    How is increasing the price gonna deter binge drinkers?
    I don't know how people can drink so much, personally my life's a barely tolerable train wreck but I hardly ever drink due to the hideous depressive hangovers. I don't know how trends like obesity and alcohol consumption are bucked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 976.

    I gave up drinking 15 years ago, so am not affected by any price increase (I'd rather the govt reduce the extortionate cost of soft drinks), but I can't help thinking that this is just another tax. Alcohol has long been cripplingly expensive in Scandinavian countries & it hasn't reduced the chronic alcohol problems they have (yes, other nationalities drink too much too) one bit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 975.

    @955 Well yes, if it cost me no more to eat out than eat in, darn right I'd eat out every night! Or I'd just have to settle for eating less often, or eating smaller amounts if my budget didn't stretch to that. Difference is, with alcohol cutting back doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of death from malnutrition.

    And yes it hits low-incomes more - so does everything, they have less to spare.

  • Comment number 974.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 973.

    All very well if this extra money to the exchequer is ringfenced for the NHS or alcohol education in schools. But I fear it will just be squandered along with most of our taxes.


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