Alcohol prices

Call on England to follow Wales on minimum alcohol prices after ‘pandemic culture of drinking’ continues

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The Institute of Alcohol Studies has called on England to follow Wales and Scotland with minimum prices on alcohol after a culture of heavy drinking at home continued following the coronavirus pandemic. Covid.

The independent body said if drinking does not return to pre-pandemic patterns, by 2035 there will be 10,000 more premature deaths in England.

Dr Sadie Boniface, head of research at the IAS, recommended setting a minimum unit price for alcohol in England, as there is in Scotland and Wales, and more funding for the treatment of alcohol. ‘alcoholism.

“We don’t have an alcohol strategy and progress on alcohol harm has been limited in recent years in England,” she said. “This research should serve as a ‘wake-up call’ for taking alcohol-related harm seriously in pandemic recovery planning.”

She added in an interview with the Time: “What concerns us is that we have not been in confinement for more than a year, and these consumption habits that we have seen during the confinement in the emergency phase, they have continued, according to the data whose we dispose .

“There is a kind of polarization in alcohol consumption that happened during Covid, which is still happening. Some more moderate drinkers have cut back on their alcohol intake or stopped drinking altogether. People who normally drank most of their alcohol consumption in pubs and restaurants, their habits may not have carried over to the home.

“Drinking to cope with the stress of confinement could be one of the reasons. Another reason could be that you could only drink at home, and therefore alcohol became much cheaper if they used to drink in restaurants.


New evidence published last week, however, suggests that introducing a minimum price for alcohol may not curb the habit of more vulnerable consumers.

Experts looked at Scotland, where a minimum unit price (MUP) of 50p per unit (8g) of pure alcohol was set in May 2018 in Scotland as part of a national strategy on alcohol designed to combat harmful consumption.

Wales then introduced the same measure in March 2020.

But the study showed consumption among Scotland’s top 5% drinkers actually increased after the price control measure was introduced.

Previous research has shown that MUP was associated with greater reductions in drinking among heavy drinkers, overall.

The new study published in BMJ Open, which looked at the impact of MUP on alcohol consumption between Scottish men and women, said consumption fell more in women who tended not to drink as much as men. men.

But he also said the alcohol tax was not associated with reduced drinking among the youngest, poorest or most heavy-drinking men – those whom the policy was primarily intended to target.

In a joint statement, the authors said: “When the Minister of Public Health, Sport and Welfare presented the 2018 Alcohol Policy Framework, he stressed that the implementation of the MUP was strongly motivated by an interest in reducing health inequalities through a reduction in alcohol consumption”. consumption among the heaviest and most vulnerable drinkers.

“Our results indicate that this goal may not be fully achieved: first, we found that women, who are less heavy drinkers in our data and in almost all global surveys to date, reduce their drinking more than men. ; second, the top 5% male drinkers had increased drinking associated with MUP; and, third, younger men and men living in more deprived areas had no decrease in consumption associated with MUP.

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