Minimum pricing is not based on good evidence, says Diageo's Mark Baird

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Minimum pricing Drinking culture Alcoholism

Minimum pricing is a “solution desperately searching for a problem” that is not based on good evidence, according to Diageo head of industry affairs and alcohol policy Mark Baird.

Speaking at a forum in London on the Government’s alcohol strategy, Baird said that the evidence that minimum pricing was based on came only from one source and its criticism has not been considered.

He said: “There is no evidence minimum pricing works, it’s never been tried in any country. The so-called evidence base is worryingly from just one source (University of Sheffield), justifiable criticism of which seems to be continually swept under the carpet in favour of blind faith.”

Baird also noted that the authors of the Sheffield report admitted that minimum pricing will do little to tackle the issue of young people’s binge drinking, when they were questioned at the Health Select Committee inquiry into the alcohol strategy.

He added: “The latest statistics tell us that alcohol consumption is down 4% on last year, but alcohol-related hospital admissions are up 11% over the same period. So the theory that a fall in alcohol consumption will automatically lead to a fall in health harms is a fallacy. The evidence quite clearly tells us something different.

“Why are we pursuing a policy that does not appear to tackle either of the two main issues we face with alcohol in the UK?

“It’s a solution desperately searching for a problem.”

Baird hit out at the Health Select Committee recommendation that Public Health England should commission a study on the effect of banning alcohol advertising, as in France.

Baird noted that the French Government had already done this and concluded that there would be no effect. He said that France has seen a 50% rise in under 15s admitted to hospital for drunkenness, whereas young people drinking in England has halved since 2001.

He said: “It appears we have another solution desperately searching for a problem.

“For all those that believe that Draconian restrictions and legislations on price, marketing and availability is the answer to tackling alcohol misuse, can we please have evidence-based policy rather than policy-based evidence?”

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