Minimum pricing Vs Below Cost Ban
The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group (ScHARR) have published new research comparing the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) with the current below cost ban. Published in the BMJ, the analysis estimates a 50 pence MUP would have approximately a 50 times greater effect.
In England a 'below cost ban' recently came into place as an MUP substitute following the Government's u-turn, but ScHARR have estimated just 0.7% of units sold are likely to have been affected. It is also unclear if any retailers have actually adjusted any retail prices following the ban, although some staff discounts on alcohol have reportedly been stopped.
On why MUP would have such a greater effect the paper states:
'[For MUP] a greater proportion of the market is affected and to a greater extent and this is especially true for harmful drinkers. It is this more specific targeting of harmful drinkers that sets the minimum unit pricing policies aside from for example general price or tax increases across the board.
The Independent picked up on the news by highlighting the missed opportunity to save lives - the analysis suggests the below cost ban will only prevent 14 deaths and 500 hospital admissions in England each year, compared to saving 624 deaths and 23,700 admissions annually from a 45p MUP.
Earlier this year ScHARR also published work which is said shows MUP is a targeted measure, as it would have negligible effects on low income moderate drinkers’ alcohol consumption and spending, therefore would not 'punish responsible drinkers'. Further work by Sheffield recently suggested supermarkets subsidise tax increases on the cheapest drinks to keep customers attracted in store.
Of course the modeled impacts of MUP have often been questioned by opponents. ScHARR have however also published a mathematical description of the alcohol policy analysis model.
Scotland's minimum pricing battle: SHAAP Brussels report
SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) have published a briefing Alcohol Policy in Scotland: Proceedings from Brussles event [pdf] following a recent meeting over Scotland's current battle to implement MUP.
The briefing contains articles by a range of health roles and industry roles, as well as an explanation of the current position by Donald Henderson, Head of Public Health Policy, Scottish Government. He explains Scotland are 'in the middle of a process where member states have to submit observations' [following the current appeal stage] and that 'sometime next year we will have both an Advocate General opinion and possibly the full court’s opinion and response'.
SHAAP are campaigning for people to sign in support for Scotland's Alcohol Minimum Pricing legislation.