Health lobby builds its case

02 April, 2010

A 50p-a-unit minimum price on alcohol could avoid 2,900 deaths a year in England, according to researchers at Sheffield University.

Within 10 years of implementation there could also be 41,000 fewer cases of chronic injury each year, and 8,000 fewer injuries, it is claimed. Hospital admissions could fall by 92,000 and save the healthcare system £270 million a year.

Most of the health benefits would occur in men aged 45 and over, especially as far as circulatory diseases such as coronary heart disease are concerned.

The latest research, published in the Lancet, expands upon research already carried out by the university, commissioned by the Department of Health, and published in December 2008.

The effects of a 40p-a-unit minimum price would be “less marked but still substantial”, researchers stated.

A 50p minimum price would cost “harmful” drinkers an extra £163 a year, the research found, while moderate drinkers would pay £12 more than currently.

A ban on price promotions would only have an effect if all such deals were banned, not just large ones, it reported.“Minimum pricing policies and discounting restrictions might warrant further consideration because both strategies are estimates to reduce alcohol consumption, and related health harms,” the report concluded.

Retailers remain implacably opposed to the Scottish government’s plans for minimum pricing, saying the policy would put an unfair burden on consumers without addressing the problem of harmful drinking.?

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