‘Pocket-money priced alcohol’ causing ‘colossal harm’ to nation, study warns

England is the only nation in UK to not have a minimum unit price on alcohol 

Alcohol is linked to 80 deaths every day in the UK
Alcohol is linked to 80 deaths every day in the UK

“Pocket money-priced” alcohol is to blame for “colossal” harm on the nation, doctors have warned after new research showed people can buy an entire week's worth of alcohol for the price of a takeaway coffee.

The analysis by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said that it is possible to buy 14 units of alcohol for a meagre £2.68 – the price of a coffee in most major high street chains.

It is not advised that anyone should drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

The Alliance team behind the research, a coalition of more than 50 organisations that include medical royal colleges and health charities, are calling on ministers to intervene and tackle cheap, high-strength alcohol.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alliance, said: "The low price of high-strength alcohol continues to cause colossal damage to the health of our nation.

"Alcohol is linked to 80 deaths in the UK every day, as well as seven types of cancer and stroke,” Sir Gilmore added.

After visiting shops and supermarkets across England, Wales and Scotland, the Alliance found the cheapest products in England.

The country is the only nation in Britain to not have a minimum unit price on alcohol of 50p, meaning some cider products were found to be just 19p per unit.

Dr Katherine Severi, chief executive at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, added: "Pocket money-priced drinks are fuelling rates of harm amongst some of our most vulnerable communities, with strong white ciders in particular proving lethal.”

The research highlighted how the most vulnerable groups tend to consume this cheap, high-strength cider, including children, high-risk drinkers and homeless people.

Sir Gilmore emphasised that "Public Health England estimates that alcohol costs the UK at least £27 billion a year. Yet over the past five years, alcohol duty has raised just £10.5-£12.1 billion annually”

He added: "To tackle the harm alcohol causes, we need to urgently address its price.

"Alcohol duty is currently too low to cover the costs of alcohol harm to our society,” Sir Gilmore continued. 

The Alliance argue that to compensate for the wider effects of alcohol on society – from hospital admissions being at a record high to liver disease rates on the rise – stronger drinks should be taxed more per unit with a minimum price introduced in England.

Dr Severi urged "now, more than ever, we need to be fighting fit as a nation and looking to reduce the additional burden on the NHS and emergency services caused by cheap alcohol."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in