A new study looks at the impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP) on patients with liver disease, as the lead author urges policy makers not to forget minimum unit pricing as "an almost perfect alcohol policy". Dr Nick Sheron, a liver doctor and academic clinical hepatologist at University of Southampton led on the study which explored drinking and pricing choices of 404 liver disease patients.
In the press release Dr Sheron states:
"Setting a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol is an almost perfect alcohol policy because it targets cheap booze bought by very heavy drinkers and leaves moderate drinkers completely unaffected. Our research shows that an MUP set at 50p per unit would affect the liver patients killing themselves with cheap alcohol two hundred times more than low risk drinkers."
The study appears to support recent research from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group which said MUP would have negligible effects on low income moderate drinkers’ alcohol consumption and spending, therefore would not 'punish responsible drinkers'. Indeed recent MUP debates seem to have been focused more on the issue of whether it is targeted or not, as the wider issue of price and consumption seems less publicly contested. Of course the arguments against MUP and its effectiveness can still be readily found, though the issue over legality is the current block to Scotland's MUP mission.
In England a 'below cost ban' recently came into place as an MUP substitute following the Government's u-turn, but it's not clear if any drinks have been affected. The ban was expected to affect only 0.7% of alcohol units sold which would be "approximately 40 to 50 times smaller than the estimated impact of a 45p MUP". Further work by Sheffield recently suggested supermarkets subsidise tax increases on the cheapest drinks to keep customers attracted in store.
Recently the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse (APPG) manifesto called on all political parties to support MUP ahead of the 2015 election. Earlier this year it was reported a Labour Government elected in 2015 would implement MUP according to leaked documents. Of course technically the Coalition state they 'have not ruled it out'... Odds on MUP being implemented by a post-2015 ConDem coalition Government anyone?