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Concern about minimum unit pricing in France

Concern has been raised by wine producers about setting a minimum price for alcohol in France as politicians look to table an amendment on the issue.

It comes as Cyrille Isaac-Sibille, a politician for the MoDem party, has aimed to put an amendment into the Social Security Financing Bill (PLFSS) — created last year to strengthen preventative health outcomes in France —  and which would see a minimum price per unit of alcohol being introduced if adopted.

Issac-Sibille told Euroactiv that the move was “not a tax” but it “would preserve the wine industry while limiting alcohol-related deaths”.

Preventable deaths

According to figures, a minimum unit price for alcohol of €0.5 per alcohol unit would reduce cancer mortality caused by alcohol by 22%, and 41,000 preventable deaths each year in the country. France is also the fourth biggest consumer of alcohol.

The Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les drogues et les conduites addictives (MIDELA), an interministerial body against drugs and addictive behaviour, said that an MUP would guarantee a profit rise for independent wine producers, unlike a tax which would benefit the state.

The body also argues that an MUP of €0.5 per unit of alcohol would mean a 15% reduction in consumer sales, and a 22% reduction in cancer-related mortality attributable to alcohol.

But The Times has reported that winemakers have said a minimum price would lead to a fall in sales, driving down their revenue further.


The news follows a similar discussion in the UK where a minimum unit price structure has already been put in place in Scotland. Indeed, Isaac-Sibille specifically wants to make the amendment due to the Scottish experience, where a study has claimed a 13.4% drop in the number of deaths attributable to alcohol consumption, and a 4.1% fall in the number of hospital admissions.

But in July, Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane wrote to the UK Statistics Authority calling for an investigation into the Public Health Scotland report, which claimed the MUP was having a “positive impact” on health outcomes. According to Gulhane, 32 of the 40 studies mentioned in the report don’t cite the health outcomes of MUP, and a further seven of the other eight studies into health outcomes reached negative or inconclusive verdicts. Only a single study, he claimed, said deaths might have been averted.

Another study earlier this year found that the alcohol sector hadn’t been negatively impacted by the MUP, though. It suggested the impact of lower volume sales were offset by the higher value of sales.

The report said: “There were one or two individual smaller or specialist retailers who perceived that MUP had reduced their revenues or profits or limited opportunities for growth, though not to an extent that affected staffing or store viability, while others reported no impact.”

But the Scotch Whisky Association, which mounted a legal challenge to the law, said the research was one part of an “overall evaluation”.

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