Well that’s the headline, but let’s face it, the minimum price being considered is quite low. In fact it is not a minimum price per unit of alcohol as is typically discussed, it is a ban on the sale of drinks for less than the tax and duty paid on them. According to the BBC, this equates to around 38p for a can of weak lager and £10.71 for a litre of spirits, or 21p per unit for beer and 28p per unit for spirits. This is in contrast to the 45p per unit minimum price that was proposed in Scotland and the 50p per unit urged by health campaigners and publicans wanting to reduce the price differential with supermarkets.
Research undertaken within ScHARR, based around a cost-effectiveness model, estimates the impact of a range of pricing strategies on deaths, illness and QALYs (Purshouse 2010). A 20p minimum price which is similar to the current proposals reduces mean alcohol consumption by 0.1%, deaths by 30 per annum and increases QALYs by 1000 p.a. This would be associated with net monetary benefits of less than £1 million over the following ten years. A 50p minimum price would reduce consumption by 6.9%, deaths by 2930 p.a., increase QALYs by 20700 p.a. and produce net monetary benefits of £6200 millions.
For further details on the modelling, contact Alan Brennan.
Purshouse R, Meier P, Brennan A, Taylor K, Rafia R. Estimated effect of alcohol pricing policies on health and health economic outcomes in England: an epidemiological model. The Lancet 2010;375:1355–1364.