Intended for healthcare professionals


Consultation on minimum price for alcohol was a sham, BMJ investigation shows

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 08 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g72
  1. Jonathan Gornall
  1. 1London

The BMJ has uncovered evidence that the government’s consultation last year on the promised introduction of a minimum price for alcohol in England and Wales was little more than a sham.

David Cameron, the prime minister, pledged in March 2012 that the policy would be introduced, in his words, to save hundreds of lives a year.

Yet internal emails from the Department of Health show that as the subsequent consultation on the level at which the price should be set was under way the alcohol industry was arguing successfully against the principle of the policy in a series of meetings with ministers.

The revelations have emerged as part of an investigation by the BMJ that has found extensive evidence of the influence on public health policy of an industry granted easy and open access to all departments of government.

Documents released under a freedom of information request show that the health department alone had 130 meetings with representatives of the alcohol industry between the coalition taking power in May 2010 and the end of 2013. Some 80 of these meetings remain publicly unacknowledged and undocumented.

Details of the meetings will come as …

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