Response to Lancet MUP research
Once again evidence is showing us that a minimum unit price will save lives and cut healthcare costs – with the greatest effect on the 5% of people who drink at rates classified as ‘harmful’.
Today’s research from Sheffield University, published in the Lancet, looked at the impact of a minimum unit price if it was set at just 45p – leading to a predicted fall in alcohol-related deaths of 860 deaths a year and reduction of 29,900 hospital admissions a year. It also reiterates that it would not have a huge impact on cost to moderate drinkers in the lowest income groups, only costing around 4p per year more on alcohol. It clearly shows there is no truth in the suggestion often made by the alcohol industry and some politicians that minimum unit price would penalise moderate drinkers and the poor.
Surely the Government can’t continue to ignore this growing evidence base?
We also need to look to Scotland as they continue to push a minimum unit of 50p – if it’s good enough for Scotland then surely it’s good enough for us. Here in the North East we suffer many of the same levels of alcohol-related harms as our neighbours north of the border and we need MUP set at a level which will see the most benefits.
Only last week the Government introduced a ban on sales of alcohol at below cost (defined as duty plus VAT) as a means to reduce the impact that cheap alcohol continues to have on society. The measure enabled the Government to say it is doing something but, by listening to the alcohol industry, which proposed this measure, we will only see more alcohol-related deaths, crimes and hospital admissions. It is effectively saying to retailers and the alcohol industry, as long as you collect the tax for us you can give alcohol away for free. To tackle the problem of cheap, strong alcohol we need to introduce a minimum unit price. It is proven to reduce alcohol harms, saving thousands of lives, reducing hospital admissions and drastically cutting crime.
Colin Shevills, Director of Balance