Minimum price for alcohol is proposed for England and Wales

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 28 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8140
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The government has announced a consultation on setting a minimum price for alcohol of 45p (€0.55; $0.72) a unit, a move welcomed by the BMA and other members of the Alcohol Health Alliance.

The figure chosen is more than the 40p backed by the prime minister earlier this year but less than the 50p a unit proposed in Scotland, and the proposal could yet be blocked by the European Union, which says that setting minimum prices is disproportionate and in breach of EU rules.

The consultation, launched today by the home secretary, Theresa May, aims to outlaw sales of cut price alcohol by supermarkets, which is blamed for encouraging binge drinking. The effect of a 45p minimum price would be felt most strongly among “own brand” spirits, which can sell for less than £10 for a 0.7 L bottle. This would increase to almost £12. The cheapest 0.75 L bottle of wine with alcohol content of 13% would be around £4.40. Cheap ciders would see big price rises.

Campaigners believe that raising the prices would cut consumption and reduce the harms caused by alcohol misuse, including crime and damage to health. The Alcohol Health Alliance welcomed the decision to launch the consultation, saying that it backed a 50p minimum price, as it would prevent more than 3000 alcohol related deaths and 40 000 crimes in England each year.

The consultation also suggests banning multibuy offers, proposes a …

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