Raising cost of drink shown to cut abuse and illness
20-year study reveals significant social benefits follow a 10 per cent rise in the price of alcohol
Saturday 24 December 2011
Minimum pricing for alcohol substantially reduces drinking and would help to tackle the burden of alcohol-related deaths, disease and injuries, according to landmark new research.
Health Minister Andrew Lansley, who will introduce his alcohol strategy next year, has defied medical opinion by insisting minimum pricing could be unlawful, would penalise the poor and fail to tackle binge drinking.
But the first study of its kind, made over 20 years in British Columbia, Canada, shows that increasing the minimum price of alcohol has led to overall falls in alcohol consumption.
To see the full graphic click here.
These findings, from the first evaluation of government policy, will put pressure on the Coalition to reconsider its softer approach, which hopes to nudge the drinks industry and problem drinkers in the right direction.
In contrast, the Scottish Government has introduced a Minimum Pricing Bill which could come in to force by 2013. The British Columbia research indicates that a 10 per cent increase in minimum prices, affecting relatively few drinks, led to a 3.4 per cent overall fall in alcohol consumption. The greatest impact was on alcopops and ciders, which fell by almost 14 per cent. More could be possible as only the minimum price for spirits kept up with inflation.
Government figures for 2010-11 show alcohol-related conditions led to nearly 1.2 million hospital admissions in England and Wales. Nearly 10,000 people were injured or killed in accidents involving drink-drivers and in England, alcohol was linked to 400,000 crimes.
The British Columbia team is yet to publish further research showing significant falls in hospital admissions.
Professor Tim Stockwell, head of the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, said: "Minimum pricing is an effective public health policy.
"It saves lives, reduces costs, prevents road traffic accidents and decreases admissions. The science is unarguable. Any negative unintended consequences could easily be addressed."
Professor Ian Gilmore, of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "This is clear evidence that consumption is linked to minimum prices. We cannot afford to wait to nudge people into drinking less or for voluntary partnerships with the drinks industry to work." The Department of Health said: "The Government will continue to review all available evidence. Our responsibility deal is working with the industry on voluntary agreements to get speedier results, such as the British Beer and Pub Association's unit awareness campaign."
Life & Style blogs
KickAssTorrents down: biggest file-sharing site moves to .cr domain after takedowns
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Watch teenager Collin Burns break the Rubik's Cube world record by solving puzzle in just 5.25 seconds
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
'Are you beach body ready?' backlash: Protein World boss labels feminist campaigners 'terrorists'
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...