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Alcoholism

Minimum unit alcohol pricing would impact most on problem drinkers in Wales research shows

The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield was asked by the Welsh Government earlier this year to update its 2014 model-based appraisal of the likely impact of a range of minimum unit pricing policies in Wales.

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The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group was asked by the Welsh Government earlier this year to update its 2014 model-based appraisal of the likely impact of a range of minimum unit pricing policies in Wales. According to the report, introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales would have the biggest impact on problem drinkers

An introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales would have the biggest impact on problem drinkers, according to new research commissioned by the Welsh government.

The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield was asked by the Welsh Government earlier this year to update its 2014 model-based appraisal of the likely impact of a range of minimum unit pricing policies in Wales.

The updated research showed that harmful drinkers bought almost half of their alcohol for less than 50p per unit. They account for 4% of the drinker population, yet they drink 27% of all alcohol sold, and are responsible for 20% of spending on all alcohol consumed in Wales.

In contrast, moderate drinkers bought less than a quarter of their alcohol for less than 50p per unit.

The new findings also showed that a minimum unit price of 50p could save 66 lives and 1,281 hospital admissions per year.

Harmful drinkers in the most deprived areas make up 0.6% of the drinker population, yet the modelling estimates that 45% of the alcohol-attributable deaths and 24% of the alcohol-attributable hospital admissions would be avoided in these areas.

In October, the Welsh Government unveiled a new Bill to introduce a minimum price for the sale of alcohol.

Vaughan Gething, Welsh health secretary, said: “This research is further evidence that there is a very clear and direct link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol.

“The introduction of a minimum unit price will have a clear impact on those who drink harmful and hazardous levels of cheap, strong alcohol. It is also expected to make an important contribution to addressing health inequalities by improving the health outcomes of hazardous and harmful drinkers living in the most deprived areas of Wales.”

Earlier this month, the Scottish government announced it would consult on introducing a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, after the UK Supreme Court dismissed a challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association to public health legislation on minimum pricing, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204053

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