We’re campaigning for minimum unit pricing to be introduced across the UK.
What is minimum unit pricing?
Minimum unit pricing (MUP) sets a baseline price at which a unit of alcohol can be sold.
In Scotland and Wales, where MUP is already the law, the MUP is 50p. This means that a bottle of wine containing 10 units of alcohol can be sold for no less than £5 and a standard strength pint of beer (2.5 units) cannot be sold for under £1.25.
How does minimum unit pricing reduce alcohol harm?
Alcohol harm is closely linked to price. The cheaper the alcohol, the more alcohol is consumed and the more harm is caused.
Due to its affordability, cheap, high strength alcohol is often consumed by children and vulnerable people. This puts these groups at significant risk. Minimum unit pricing works by targeting the cheapest and strongest products on the market without impacting prices in pubs and bars.
Currently, a 2.5 litre bottle of cider containing 19 units of alcohol can be purchased for as little at £3.59 in England. Under MUP, this price would rise to £9.50.
The World Health Organization recommends alcohol pricing policies, like MUP, as one of the most effective and cost–effective measures to reduce alcohol consumption and harms.
MUP would save lives and reduce pressure on our NHS and emergency services.
Is minimum unit pricing working in Scotland and Wales?
MUP was introduced in Scotland in 2018 and introduced in Wales in 2020.
Public Health Scotland published its evaluation of MUP in June 2023. They found that MUP in Scotland has reduced alcohol-specific deaths by 13.4% and averted over 800 hospitals admissions every year since its introduction. MUP also had the most impact on those living in the 40% most deprived areas of Scotland. This has helped to reduce health inequalities.
The public health body conclude that MUP is effective at reducing alcohol harm and supports the continuation of MUP in Scotland.
The full evaluation of MUP in Wales is yet to be published.
The Northern Ireland Executive is currently consulting on proposals to introduce MUP.
England is the only part of the UK without plans for MUP.
What is the Alcohol Health Alliance UK campaigning for?
In England, it is possible to drink the low-risk weekly guideline of 14 units for just £2.68 – less than the price of a cup of coffee from many high street coffee chains.
We are calling on the government to:
- Introduce minimum unit pricing in England
- Regularly review the minimum unit price in order to ensure its effect is not undermined by wider changes in the affordability of alcohol such as inflation.
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