Thursday, 23 February 2012

Evidence shows alcohol must be priced properly

A study by Academics at Newcastle University in the latest issue of the academic journal Alcohol and Alcoholism has shown that the Government’s ban on Alcohol being priced below the level of tax will only affect less than two percent of sales promotions in Newcastle. The promotions studied required consumers to buy on average 20 units of alcohol and provided an average saving of 25%. These promotions had the effect of decreasing the average price per unit of alcohol by 24p.

Multiple studies have shown that pricing has a dramatic affect on what people drink. For example Joseph Rowntree Foundation research has shown that amongst young people how they should drink in a night is not determined by the number of drinks or the strength of drinks but how much they spend on drinks. This provides strong evidence that if drinks cost more then they would drink less.

The Newcastle study highlights two things. First of all it shows that a promotion on the sale of alcohol has a large effect on the consumption of alcohol. From the evidence that pricing effects how much people drink we can see that promotions mean people drink more. If something is 25% cheaper for 20 units of alcohol you are more likely to buy the 20 units rather than buying fewer units. It’s 24p per unit cheaper. This is a massive incentive to drink more. The second thing it shows is that the Government’s proposed solution to these promotions and the problems they cause is completely ineffective. As we’ve previously highlighted the high levels of drinking in this country has a massive cost to our health and to the public purse. If only less than 2% of promotions are affected by the Government’s below tax ban then it can’t be expected to have any real effect on the harms caused by problem drinking. This led the academics behind the study to conclude that a minimum price of 50p would be far more effective in reducing drinking.

This just adds further support to our campaign for a per unit minimum price to be introduced. Please write to your MP now and tell them that we need a minimum price for every unit of alcohol.