Minimum alcohol pricing shows 'significant impacts,' says expert

April 17, 2012, British Medical Journal

Government plans to impose a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol will have "significant impacts" including a 38,900 reduction in hospital admissions, a 1,149 reduction in deaths and a cut in alcohol consumption by 2.4%, says John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King's Fund, in an article published in the British Medical Journal today.

A 50p minimum price would more than double all these effects, while an has even greater "sobering" effects, he adds.

Price and are key to determining the demand for alcohol. Over nearly half a century, spending on alcohol in the UK has increased in real terms – more than doubling between 1964 and 2004.

These factors can also be used to form the basis of an alcohol "affordability index." Apart from brief periods since 1980 (generally coinciding with economic recessions and lower disposable incomes), alcohol is now much more affordable than 30 years ago.

But over the last five years, spending has fallen by 17% in real terms – back to 1996 levels. This is partly due to the recent recession but also partly precedes it. Binge drinking among young men has also seen a sharp decline in recent years – accelerating a generally downward trend since 1998.

In 2010 spending increased marginally, with UK households spending around £42.1 billion on alcohol and everyone aged 18 and over spending on average around £17 a week on alcohol.

But do these figures suggest a problem with drinking in the UK, asks Appleby?

data suggest there is. In England, alcohol-related admissions doubled between 2002 and 2010 to around 265,000. Alcohol-related deaths also follow a similar pattern of constant increase between 2001 and 2008 – although they fell slightly in 2009 to 6,584 in England.

"Whether or not this all constitutes a significant problem now – given lags in health and other impacts of drinking and recent falls in consumption – the impact of various price and non-price interventions to reduce drinking show significant impacts," he concludes.

Explore further: UK: Minimum alcohol price not set high enough

Related Stories

UK: Minimum alcohol price not set high enough

February 24, 2012
Following Prime Minister David Cameron's vow last week to tackle binge drinking, new research from Newcastle University has highlighted the need for a strong approach to alcohol pricing.

Wales faces deepest NHS cuts of all UK countries

May 25, 2011
In Wales, the NHS is set for a real budget cut of nearly 11% over four years, while England escapes the deepest cuts across the four nations, according to John Appleby, Chief Economist at the King's Fund in the British Medical ...

Alcohol abuse could kill around 210,000 people over the next 20 years, academic warns

February 21, 2012
A University of Southampton academic has warned the UK is on the ‘potential tipping point’ in the war against alcohol abuse and says failure to reform alcohol laws will result in 210,000 avoidable alcohol-related ...

UQ research finds alcopops tax ineffective

December 12, 2011
A University of Queensland research team have evaluated the effectiveness of the 'alcopops' tax by studying binge drinking-related admissions at the Gold Coast Hospital.

Britain targets binge-drinking with minimum alcohol price

March 23, 2012
The British government will introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol in England and Wales to tackle their infamous binge-drinking culture, Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.