Professor Nick Sheron, at the University of Southampton, described minimum unit pricing (MUP) as “an almost perfect alcohol policy because it targets cheap booze bought by very heavy drinkers and leaves moderate drinkers completely unaffected”.
His research also promised a minimum price of 50p “wouldn’t affect pubs or bars” and that 90% of people would not be affected at all.
The peer review journal for the Royal College of Physicians, published in Clinical Medicine, was based on studies of 404 liver patients.
Dr Sheron said: “Our research shows that an MUP set at 50p per unit would affect the liver patients killing themselves with cheap alcohol 200 times more than low risk drinkers
“Alcohol sold to heavy drinkers provides three-quarters of the profits of the UK drinks industry, of which alcohol sold to very heavy drinkers provides one third. When the Government says it is concerned about the impact of MUP on moderate drinkers, they are simply repeating propaganda which has been put out by the drinks industry to try and preserve the huge profits they are making from people drinking at really dangerous levels.”
Meanwhile, the Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse (APoSM) backed the Welsh Assembly’s plans to bring in an MUP of 50p as part of a Public Health Bill early next year.
Kyrie James, who chairs the panel of experts that make up APoSM said MUP would “exquisitely target the most vulnerable groups in our communities and ameliorate the negative impacts of alcohol misuse”.
The group’s research quotes figures from a University of Sheffield study last year which claims a 45p MUP would result in a £62m loss for the on-trade.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It is certainly the case that, moves towards a minimum price in Wales alone would create distortions in local retail markets, especially given that most people in Wales have a relatively short travel time to the English border.
“We have supported the UK Government policy of a ban on below cost selling, and we strongly support policies and initiatives targeted at the minority of those who misuse alcohol. This is the best way to reduce alcohol harm.”