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.
The Northern Ireland Executive is currently consulting on proposals to introduce MUP. England is the only part of the UK without plans for MUP.
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, therefore, more harm is caused.
Minimum unit pricing works by targeting the cheapest and strongest products on the market without impacting prices in pubs and bars.
At the moment, 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.
A 50p MUP in England is estimated to save 525 lives and cut healthcare costs by £326 million every year.
Cheap, strong cider will always appeal to teenagers because it can easily be bought from their pocket money, and many parents just aren’t aware of the risks.
Increasing the price of cheap alcohol will help to put children and vulnerable people off from drinking it and will save lives.
— Joanne Good, mother to 16-year old Megan who passed away after drinking strong white cider
Why do we need minimum unit pricing across the whole of the UK?
Alcohol is now 74% more affordable in England than it was in 1987.
In England, it is possible to drink the low risk weekly guideline of 14 units for just £2.68 – about the price of a cup of coffee from many high street coffee chains.
Evidence shows that as alcohol becomes more affordable, drinking and alcohol-related harm increase. The simplest way to reduce the amount of cheap alcohol drunk is by increasing the price.
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. The full evaluation will take time but early evidence is encouraging: following the introduction of MUP, alcohol consumption in Scotland fell to the lowest level seen in 25 years.
MUP is estimated to have reduced net off-sales purchases in Scotland, compared to England and Wales (before MUP was introduced), by between 4% and 5% in the first year of implementation.
The findings of the latest Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report highlight that alcohol sales have continued to fall – reaching their lowest level since 1994, to 9.4 litres per adult in 2020.
The Government needs to introduce policies like MUP to make it a fairer playing field for small businesses selling alcohol. In some supermarkets you can buy a can of lager for less than a bottle of fizzy pop or water. At the moment, we can’t compete with supermarkets.Stephen Tate, Shopkeeper
What is the Alcohol Health Alliance UK campaigning for?
We’re calling on the UK Government to:
- Introduce minimum unit pricing in England
- Regularly review MUP in order to ensure its effect is not undermined by wider changes in the affordability of alcohol
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