Evidence from Scotland and Wales that minimum pricing reduces alcohol consumption has led to renewed calls for Westminster to take similar action.
Research published in The Lancet revealed that the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) of 50p had resulted in a 7.7 per cent drop in alcohol sales in Scotland and 8.6 per cent in Wales.
Academics analysed data from over 35,000 British households, detailing 1.24 million separate alcohol purchases in 2015–18 and the first half of 2020.
In 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce an MUP in an attempt to tackle its growing number of alcohol-related deaths. Wales followed suit in March 2020.
Professor Peter Anderson, who led the study, said: “The introduction of a MUP in Scotland has made a significant impact on reducing alcohol levels, with a sustained drop in overall units bought by some of the highest-consuming households two years on.
“We can now see that the introduction of a MUP in Wales at the beginning of March 2020 has had a similar impact to the one we saw in Scotland in 2018 and we hope to see a continued benefit.”
Co-author Professor Eileen Kaner sounded a note of caution, saying she was concerned to see that “high-purchasing, lowest income households did not adjust their buying habits, and spending simply increased as a result of the MUP policy.”
In response, the Government said: “There are no plans to introduce minimum unit price in England at this time.”
In 2019, a major review of the impact of alcohol abuse on NHS services estimated that one in five people in hospital beds were using alcohol harmfully, and that as many as one in ten patients were alcohol dependent.