Minimum pricing ‘would have no effect on pubs’, experts say

By James Wallin contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Government, Alcoholic beverage

Two new studies say minimum alcohol pricing would effectively target heavy drinkers of cut-price alcohol
Two new studies say minimum alcohol pricing would effectively target heavy drinkers of cut-price alcohol
Two new studies have given support for minimum alcohol unit pricing, with one academic accusing the Government of a “lamentable failure to take action”.

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.

Exquisite solution

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.”

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7 comments

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MUP and other Social Factors

Posted by Anthony Zausdmer,

I think we in the on-trade need to be very careful in what we wish for. Is the support for MUP merely a means to give the supermarkets a kicking for being more efficient than the pub trade - or is it support for the medical zealots whose "studies" fail to take into account the social factors surrounding problem drinkers?

I think we licensees would be lying if we claimed we didn't know several people who would drink to excess, to the detriment of their families, no matter what price alcohol was set at.

And the sting-in-the-tail? Once the zealots have achieved 21st Century Prohibition in supermarkets they will - sure as eggs is eggs - come gunning for pubs.

Let's not be naive about this, please!

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Experts?

Posted by The way Forward,

"Experts against profits" ! Sounds somewhat green eyed god of envy to me.Very socialist.

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Democracy

Posted by Interested Observer,

I don't pretend to understand the statistics, and am ambivalent on minimum pricing, but what did catch my eye was the report's assertion that as the Scottish legislation has received the Queen's ascent (sic), it is undemocratic of the SWA to challenge it in the courts.

As we are, like it or not, subject to EU law I would have thought that it is anyone's democratic right to challenge legislation which they think conflicts with that law.

Or is legislation which pressure groups think is "right" to be somehow immune from such challenge?

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