Health body 'wants minimum alcohol pricing'

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is likely to put its weight behind minimum unit pricing for alcohol, according to a leaked report.

The body – which is the government’s main source of expertise on health issues – will tell ministers that minimum pricing would be the best way to curb problem drinking in the UK.

According to reports, NICE will not recommend a particular level for the proposals though it is thought that Professor Mike Kelly, director of NICE’s centre for public health excellence, would favour 50p a unit.

NICE calculates that 25% of people in Britain consume levels of alcohol that are potentially harmful.

The proposals would come at a time when the Scottish government is already attempting to introduce minimum pricing despite widespread opposition, and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster is planning to outlaw below-cost alcohol sales.