Ahead of the government's spring Budget this week, both 'sides' campaigning for changes in alcohol duty have been seeing some coverage of their calls. The Alcohol Health Alliance and other health groups have been calling for a raise in duties relating to cheap white cider, which were implicated in the recent death of a 16 year old girl - The Mirror.
The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) have released a new report examining key issues related to alcohol and the economy, a central topic for alcohol policy debates relating to consumption and pricing measures.
The report states that reducing population alcohol consumption does not necessarily mean a negative impact on the UK economy, but could in fact potentially boost it owing to effects such as increased productivity.
The latest release details national level data and recent trends, albeit using a different methodology for alcohol-related mortality than the recent ONS release. Most LAPE measures remain relatively stable over recent years, though alcohol-related road traffic accidents have declined whilst mortality from chronic liver disease for men and women has risen.
Understanding alcohol consumption trends, especially among heavy drinking groups, is undoubtedly central to alcohol policy debates across the UK, but unveiling the complexity and nature of alcohol use across society is no mean feat. Recent research, however, provides new insights into what and who lies behind recent consumption shifts and how to interpret these in the context of 'drinking types' and 'cultures'.
A new analysis of ‘heavier drinkers’ in Great Britain from 1978-2010, funded by ESRC and published earlier this year, urges against relying on headline consumption data when considering alcohol problems and policy. Rather, we need to recognise the 'rich tapestry' of alcohol consumption: the patterns of use and culture that are spread not only across the whole population but within a range of drinking 'sub-groups'. The research explored 'typologies and dynamics' of heavier drinkers, identifying four 'stable clusters' during the period, with each group showing characteristics that were distinct from both the other heavy drinking groups and the general population.
Public health bodies are calling on the Chancellor to use taxation as a lever to address the cheapest alcohol products including 'white ciders' ahead of the spring budget next month, though are competing with opposing calls from alcohol industry bodies. Both taxation and a minimum unit pricing (MUP) featured in a commons debate on alcohol harms on Thursday 2nd February.
The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) have released a call [pdf] making four recommendations for the government including the reinstatement of the alcohol duty escalator, MUP and to seek a more health adequate duty system based on strength for all products in future trade agreements. Balance, the regional alcohol group for the North East, are also calling on the Chancellor to raise duty on high strength white ciders, such as Frosty Jack’s and White Ace, which have a lower duty per unit than any other alcohol product. They say a targeted rise in duty would leave 80 percent of cider sales unaffected and that 66% of the public would support a duty increase, also highlighting a recent Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) report stating white cider products - sold for as little as 16p per unit of alcohol - are predominantly drunk by dependent and underage drinkers.