Enhanced minimum-pricing strategy on alcohol could result in less harm for consumers

October 19, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Consumers tend to switch to less potent alcoholic beverages when minimum prices are raised for cheap, strong drinks, new research from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) shows.

Co-authored with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, the report also indicates the measure successfully reduces the consumption of , the harmful ingredient of , and so lowers the risk of harmful health effects.

The new report, "The Raising of Minimum Alcohol Prices in Saskatchewan, Canada: Impacts on Consumption and Implications for Public Health," released today in the , examines the impact of new and increased minimum alcohol prices, including adjustments based on percentage of alcohol content—higher prices for higher alcohol content—in Saskatchewan.

Governments are increasingly looking at minimum pricing and how it relates to . Both Scotland and the UK plan to implement minimum alcohol pricing, but the Scotch Whisky Association has sought a judicial review and the governments of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria have raised concerns with the .

Looking at sales data from both before and after the comprehensive strategy was implemented in Saskatchewan, the study found consumption of higher-strength beers and wines decreased the most—a 10-per cent increase in the price of cheap high alcohol-strength beer (greater than 6.5 per cent) results in a 22-per cent reduction in consumption, compared with an 8.17-per cent reduction for beer with lower alcohol content. Overall, the study found that a comprehensive 10-per cent increase in minimum prices brings an 8.43-per cent decrease in consumption, more than double the 3.4-per cent reduction in alcohol consumption found in an earlier CARBC minimum pricing study of data from British Columbia, where only the price of cheap spirits was increased with .

"We know minimum pricing of alcohol works to reduce consumption. This study tells how to implement the policy most effectively," says Dr. Tim Stockwell, CARBC director and lead author of the report, adding that UVic research is leading the study of minimum pricing of alcohol, providing the first empirical evidence of the strategy's effectiveness.

The report notes there is strong evidence that: reduced alcohol consumption lowers rates of related illnesses, injuries and social problems; high strength products are associated with risky patterns of consumption; and younger and heavier drinkers tend to choose cheaper alcohol. The Saskatchewan approach of raising prices of the cheapest and highest-strength alcohol can therefore be expected to give most benefits to those individuals who are at greatest risk of health and social problems due to their drinking, Stockwell says. Furthermore, he adds, encouraging all drinkers to shift to lower products will have additional, more widespread benefits.

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

More information: ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/ … 105/AJPH.2012.301094

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.

Minimum alcohol pricing shows 'significant impacts,' says expert

April 17, 2012
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%, ...

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

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

The environmental injustice of beauty

August 16, 2017
Women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, according to a commentary published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors say ...

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers' children

August 15, 2017
Elemental sulfur, the most heavily used pesticide in California, may harm the respiratory health of children living near farms that use the pesticide, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

Taking a stand on staying mobile after 80

August 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you want to stay as fit as possible well into your 80s, the answer may be as simple as standing on your own two feet.

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.