Health body calls for MUP on alcohol in England

Public Health England has called for the government to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) on alcohol to reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm.

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Public Health England published a report this week supporting the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol in England.

A report on the “burden of alcohol” commissioned by the Department of Health claims the introduction of a minimum price of 60 pence per unit of alcohol would save more than 1,100 lives and reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions by 51,000 every year in England and Wales.

The total health, social and economic cost of alcohol harm could be as high as 2.7% of GDP, or £47 billion, the report found. Public Health England (PHE) estimates that there are more than one million hospital admissions because of alcohol every year.

Though more adults are not drinking at all, there are more than 10 million people consuming potentially harmful levels of alcohol.

The UK government previously outlined plans in 2012 to introduce minimum unit pricing, but abandoned the policy in 2013 in favour of banning below-cost salesPHE’s study estimates that minimum pricing would have a 40 to 50 times greater impact than the current policy.

“Implementing a MUP is a highly targeted measure which ensures any resulting price increases are passed on to the consumer improving the health of the heaviest drinkers who experience the greatest amount of harm,” the report said.

It claims that a minimum price of 60 pence per unit of alcohol would have a “negligible impact on moderate drinkers and the on-trade” and would lead to “substantial reductions in harm and increases in government revenue.”

Outside of England, the Scottish government has already approved plans to introduce MUP on alcohol in Scotland, however the Scotch Whisky Association has recently announced it will appeal its plans.

Speaking to the drinks business, a Home Office spokesperson said that the introduction of minimum unit pricing in England and Wales remains “under review”.

“The Government awaits the outcome of the Scotch Whisky Association’s decision to appeal the decision of the Scottish Courts and the impact of the implementation of this policy in Scotland,” she added.

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