Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol in England could save thousands of lives in the next decade, experts have said.
In a letter to The Times, four experts in the field of alcohol addiction welcomed the findings of an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report which proposed tax reforms to ‘tackle heavy drinking’.
The IFS based its recommendations on new evidence from alcohol purchases in Scotland. Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol in 2018.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Sir Jeremy Elwes, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Professor John Iredale said in their letter that the relatively low price of alcohol per unit in England cost “thousands of lives a year”.
The health care experts approved of the IFS findings that suggested the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol, alongside a robust alcohol duty system, would reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
They estimated that these measures “could save more than 5,000 lives in the next decade.”
One of the key findings in the IFS report was that the introduction of the minimum unit price in Scotland had led to an eleven per cent fall “in units purchased per adult per week, with larger falls for more heavily drinking households”.
Statistics recently published by National Records Scotland have also shown a “notable” fall in deaths caused by alcohol abuse in 2019.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of the campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland, welcomed the news and said that minimum unit pricing may now be translating into “health benefits”.