Alcohol related harm & the case for minimum pricing per unit of alcohol
The Scottish Government has published an Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill which would set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence. It also sets the formula for calculating the minimum price (based on the strength of the alcohol, the volume of the alcohol and a price per unit of alcohol). A specific minimum price per unit of alcohol will be announced during the Bill process, but in the meantime the University of Sheffield has updated the report it published in 2009 on the impact of minimum alcohol pricing in light of new data. The new report looks at a range of minimum prices from 25p to 70p, with and without a ban on promotions. The report suggests that a 45p minimum price, with a promotions ban, would reduce overall weekly consumption across society by 6% with the biggest changes among “harmful drinkers”. The report claims that harmful drinkers would pay an extra £132 per year, compared to £9 for moderate drinkers; 3600 fewer criminal offences would occur per year; some 36,500 fewer workdays would be lost through absenteeism and harm reduction valued at £952 million would be achieved over 10 years
Nicola Sturgeon, the Secretary for Health in Scotland, has urged MSPs to support the new Bill and has welcomed the findings of new research highlighting the impact of minimum pricing for alcohol in Canada. This study found a 10% increase in the minimum price of all alcoholic drinks led to a 3.4% reduction in consumption. Ms Sturgeon said the research also confirms the Scottish Government’s view that the measure has more of an effect on heavy drinkers as they tend to favour cheaper alcohol. One of the co-authors of the study, Dr Chris Auld, said further research would assess which drinkers and which alcohol-caused harms respond most to minimum prices”.
The guest speakers at this meeting were Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the Royal Colleges of Physicians Special Adviser on Alcohol; and Henry Portman, Chief Executive of the Portman Group.