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 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 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.

  • 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 418.

    Research this week showed that problem drinking is particularly high amongst middle class women. A minimum price per unit is not going to affect their ability to buy alcohol, but it will stop less well off people from partaking in even limited drinking. And we all know it won't apply to the subsidised bars in parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    It will mean the return of 'Booze Cruises' to the continent to stock up on wine,spirits and beer.

    Pubs are closing every week due to the smoking ban and the economy - now the supermarkets and off-licences will suffer.

    As for the public - the responsible majority who enjoy a bottle of wine or a few cans at home on a Friday will be punished by this.


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