IAS adds its voice to calls from the Alcohol Health Alliance for the Government to set the minimum price per unit of alcohol at 50 pence in a letter published in the Sunday Times on 18 November (pdf 29kb). It comes ahead of Home Office plans to open a consultation on the minimum level beginning at the end of the month.

The Government Alcohol Strategy released earlier this year proposes to outlaw the selling of alcohol at less than a minimum amount in an effort to tackle binge drinking. The Home Office website illustrates the effects of a 40p MUP on several of the most popular drinks sold off-licence.

But IAS says a 50p MUP would bring about more significant health and social benefits, preventing more than 3,000 alcohol related deaths and 98,000 hospital admissions over ten years, and more than 40,000 alcohol related crimes each year in England.

Katherine Brown, Director of Policy at IAS said:

“It is essential that a minimum unit price for alcohol is set at a meaningful level that will reap significant health and social benefits. Heavy, harmful and younger drinkers are proven to be very price sensitive to alcohol, so a 50p MUP promises to make a far greater difference on the number of lives saved and crimes prevented than a 40p MUP, with little impact on moderate drinkers.

“The Scottish Government has looked at all the available evidence and decided to set a MUP of 50p north of the border. It is common sense that the level set in England and Wales should be the same in order to avoid cross-border trading which could undermine the efficacy of this policy. We have already seen examples of major retailers circumventing Scottish price restrictions by advertising cheap alcohol from warehouses in the North of England. A uniform approach across the UK will give us the best chance of tackling the burden of harm caused by alcohol, and improving the safety, health and well-being of our communities.”

The AHA’s push for a 50p MUP also coincides with the launch of Alcohol Awareness Week 2012 – a campaign involving a variety of organisations including Alcohol Concern and Balance North East – which aims to highlight the potential dangers of consuming cheap alcohol.